PESONEN SAVES THE DAY, LEADS PENGUINS TO 5-3 WIN
WILKES-BARRE, PA - Janne Pesonen scored a pair of third period goals, allowing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to post a 5-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
It was an exciting ending that the Pens wish they didn't need. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (44-24-2-2) took a 3-0 lead after just 27 minutes of play, but saw the Griffins (41-19-6-6) score three times in a span of 5:53 to even the game at 3-3 early in the third period.
Pesonen sniped home his first goal of the night at 12:33 of the third, beating Grand Rapids goaltender Daniel Larsson over his glove hand with a shot from the left side. He followed that with a backhand wraparound that was tucked between Larsson’s right skate and the near post with 3:36 left in regulation. The Penguins winger now has 11 goals in his past 12 games, and 21 points in just 13 games during the month of March.
The game got off on the right foot for the Pens, as Luca Caputi picked up a Connor James rebound off of Larsson’s pad and put home his 17th goal of the season seven-and-a-half minutes into the game. Jeff Taffe followed about 10 minutes later, one-timing an Alex Goligoski pass into the cage for his 23rd goal of the season.
History was made in the second period, as Chris Minard scrapped his way to the net and poked home his 32nd goal of the season, setting a new team mark for goals in a single campaign. It was also his 32nd career power play tally with the Penguins, breaking Tom Kostopoulos’ previous mark of 31.
Things started to spin out of control late in the period, as Darren Haydar scored on the power play at 14:59. The Griffins cut the lead to 3-2 when Aaron Gagnon took a needled pass from Francis Lemieux and split three Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skaters before beating John Curry in the upper corner for his eight goal of the season.
Cory Emmerton evened the game 52 seconds into the third period off a goal line scrum, before Pesonen produced his third multi-goal game in the past 11 contests.
Curry made 31 saves on the night to pick up his 29th win of the season, one shy of tying Dany Sabourin’s team record of 30 set in 2005-06.
NOTES: Connor James was named the 14th captain in team history prior to the game…Taffe’s 23 goals are a new single-season best for the veteran forward.