WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Tom Kostopoulos’ second goal of the game was the game-winner and the 500th point of his pro career as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins triumphed over the Hershey Bears, 5-3, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton saw its three-goal cushion dwindle down to one and entered the third period holding on to a 3-2 lead. Kostopoulos gave the Penguins much-needed breathing room at 6:05 when he intercepted an outlet pass in the slot and whipped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Bears goalie David Leggio.
Nicolas Deschamps did his best to keep Hershey in the game, cutting the Penguins’ lead back down to one. Already with a goal and an assist in the contest, Deschamps took a breakaway pass from Tyson Strachan for a shorthanded tally at 8:56 of the third.
The Penguins received an insurance goal from Nick Drazenovic, his third of the year, with 3:39 left in regulation.
Helped along by a 3-for-4 effort on the power play, the Penguins had their best first period of the season at home and raced ahead, 3-0. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton needed only 1:50 to net the game’s first goal as Scott Harrington floated a wrist shot from the point that Kostopoulos deflected through the pads of Leggio.
At 12:19 of the same period with the Penguins on the man-advantage, Anton Zlobin swept a backhand pass through the Hershey crease that Paul Thompson hammered home to make the score 2-0 for Wilkes-Bare/Scranton.
Brian Gibbons added another power play marker less than two minutes later to stretch his team’s lead to three.
The Bears struck twice in 55 seconds in the final minutes of the second period to pull within one before the intermission. Deschamps fed Ryan Stoa in the slot to complete an odd-man rush at 15:52 before redirecting Peter Leblanc’s shot from the blueline past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netminder Eric Hartzell.
Hartzell made 20 saves on 23 shots to raise his record to 3-1-0 on the season. Leggio suffered the loss, turning aside 15-of-20 for Hershey.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins take the ice at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 for their first-ever meeting against the Utica Comets. Tune into all the live game action on the Sports Hub 102 and AHL Live.
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