PENS RUN WINNING STREAK TO EIGHT GAMES
WILKES-BARRE, PA -The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins pushed their winning streak to eight games on Sunday night, skating past the Worcester Sharks, 5-2, at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza. The win upped the Pens’ record to 35-16-1-2 on the season, and moved the club within one point of the first place Hershey Bears in the East Division with one game in hand.
“Most certainly, we keep pushing forward, we keep getting wins, find ways to win games,” said Dan Bylsma, who was promoted to interim head coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins following the game. “The guys have a sense of urgency in the room - this is something that we can do and have a chance to do. And I think that if we keep playing good hockey and keep getting points and keep getting wins, we can expect to keep climbing [the standings].”
Just one week ago the gap between first place and second in the division was seven points. But wins over the Lake Erie Monsters, Hamilton Bulldogs and Sharks - coupled with four consecutive Bears defeats - now leaves the Penguins within striking distance of first place.
The team’s current winning streak is the longest of the season. Last year’s club put together a pair of nine-game winning streaks en route to the Calder Cup Finals.
Sunday’s victory was also the 10th in a row for Penguins netminder John Curry, setting a new team record for consecutive wins by a goaltender. Both Dany Sabourin (2005-06) and Andrew Penner (2006-07) put together nine-game streaks previously.
The Penguins offense was led by Janne Pesonen, who picked up three points on the night (1+2). Pesonen opened the scoring by slipping a shot between the pads of goaltender Thomas Greiss on the power play eight-and-a-half minutes into the game for his 16th goal of the season.
The score remained 1-0 until the 8:58 mark of the second frame, when Patrick Traverse picked up a Ryan Vesce rebound and slipped a shot behind Curry to deadlock the game.
But the tie would last only two minutes, as Tim Wallace took a feed from Connor James in the slot, then had all day to tee up a slapshot that went five-hole on Greiss to put the Pens back in front for good.
Mark Letestu banged home his 15th of the season by beating defenseman Andrew Desjardins to the goal, and then taking a feed from Jeff Taffe on the left boards to make the score 3-1 at the end of two.
Vesce, who was assigned to Worcester from San Jose just prior to game time, netted a power play goal 59 seconds into the third period to cut the lead to one goal. But Alex Goligoski put away his first since rejoining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 6:40, picking up a loose puck out of a scrum in front of the ne, giving him points in three straight games.
Adam Henrich iced the contest with his second goal in three contests at 16:33 of the third.
Curry made 38 saves on the night to run his record to 18-3-0-0 since December 13.