PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Penguins stormed out of the gate in the first period, scoring three times en route to a 5-1 win over the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton struck first at 2:47 after Zack Torquato freed up the puck on the forecheck and Dominik Uher dropped a pass into the high slot for Anton Zlobin, coming fresh off the bench. The rookie forward whistled a wrist shot past the glove of goalie Jeff Jakaitis to give the Penguins the early lead.
Uher then helped create the Penguins’ second goal at 12:57 of the same period. As Bruins defensemen Ben Youds looked to cut out from behind his net with the loose puck, Uher was able to poke it away toward the crease where Torquato jammed it inside the near post.
Simon Despres recorded his third goal in his last two games and made the score 3-0 for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 27.8 seconds left in the period. Skating down from the point, Despres’ centering pass from the right circle deflected off a skate and under the outstretched leg pad of Jakaitis.
The Penguins took that lead into the third period, but early penalty trouble would help Providence get on the board. With the Bruins on a 5-on-3 advantage, Joe Morrow rocketed a one-timer from the circle that beat Eric Hartzell low blocker at 3:11 and cut the Penguins’ lead down to two.
Tom Kostopoulos allowed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to regain its three-goal margin with 7:03 left in regulation after Jakaitis went behind his net to play a puck. The Penguins captain intercepted the goalie’s clearing attempt and gave the puck to Nick Drazenovic, who fired his eighth of the year into the open net to put his team up, 4-1.
Less than four minutes later, Harry Zolnierczyk flipped a breakaway pass behind the Providence defense that Kostopoulos settled down before wristing home his team-leading 15th tally of the season.
Hartzell pushed his record to 7-2-1 with 33 saves on 34 shots. In his first start for the Bruins, Jakaitis turned aside 27-of-32.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are back on the road this Friday, Jan. 25 as they take on the Norfolk Admirals at 7:30 p.m. Tune into the live game action on the Sports Hub 102 or AHL Live.
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