BLUEGER, BURTON BOTH SCORE TWICE IN PENS’ OT WIN OVER DEVILS

 


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins received two-goal performances from Teddy Blueger and Jarrett Burton to defeat the Binghamton Devils in overtime, 4-3, on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (16-8-2-1) survived a three-goal outburst by Binghamton from the first period, forced extra time, and eventually earned Michael Leighton his first victory in a Penguins uniform ( BOXSCORE ).

The Penguins started off the scoring when Adam Johnson raced up the ice to beat out an icing call, and then set up Blueger in the low slot with a beautiful pass at 4:19 of the first period. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton added to its lead four minutes later with Burton redirecting a point shot from Kevin Czuczman past Binghamton goalie Ken Appleby.

The Devils got on the board on the power play as John Quenneville ripped one from the top of the circle and beat Leighton glove side at 12:37 of the opening frame. Nick Lappin evened the score at 15:31 of the first period.

Binghamton delivered a shorthanded goal from Michael Latta on a two-on-one rush with Tim Kennedy that granted the Devils a 3-2 lead with only 54 seconds before the first intermission.


After a scoreless, special-teams filled second stanza, the Penguins finally found an equalizer with one of the strangest goals of the season. Cody Wydo and Burton engaged in a battle for the puck with a Devils defender in the corner of the Binghamton zone, and when the puck hopped free, Burton swatted it up into the air. After roughly three seconds of hang time, the puck dropped off of Appleby’s back and across the goal line for Burton’s first multi-goal game of his AHL career. The tying goal came at 7:15 of the third period, and ultimately forced the contest to overtime.

With under a minute left to play in the extra period, Blueger tapped in his second tally of the night thanks to a tape-to-tape pass from Jean-Sébastien Dea, giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the 4-3 victory.

Leighton recorded 28 saves in his first career start with the Penguins, while Appleby turned aside 31 of 35 shots faced for the Devils.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 23 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Saturday’s game also serves as the Penguins’ Festivus Celebration, including a Festivus pole on the concourse and specialty Festivus jerseys to be auctioned off during the game. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms on Festivus Night also has a special 5:05 p.m. start time. Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 19th season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including 22-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

LEIGHTON LOOKING TO STOP PUCKS FOR, NOT AGAINST, PENGUINS


Michael Leighton is one of the most accomplished goaltenders in American Hockey League history, and most notably holds the league’s record for career shutouts with 50.

Much to the chagrin of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans, six of those clean sheets have come against the Penguins.

But after being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins via trade this week, Leighton is now looking forward to stopping pucks for club instead of against it.

“I always liked playing against this team and in the [Mohegan Sun Arena].  I always felt comfortable,” Leighton said after his first practice with the Penguins on Wednesday morning.  “Hopefully I can turn that around and help the team win.”

A well-traveled veteran, Leighton suited up for eight eight AHL teams, as well as four NHL clubs, between 2001 and the end of the 2016-17 season.  But his hockey odyssey this season has been nothing short of frustrating for the native of Petrolia, Ontario.

Leighton signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer, and was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch to start the 2017-18 season.

After appearing in nine games with the Crunch, Leighton was traded with forward Tye McGinn to the Arizona Coyotes on November 14.

But his travels didn’t stop in the desert southwest.

With the Coyotes’ minor league club, the Tucson Roadrunners, already with two goaltenders, Leighton was loaned out to the Chicago Wolves, who were short on pucks toppers due to a rash of injuries with their parent club, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Leighton filled a gap in Chicago, playing in five games with the Wolves between November 21 and December 10.  But, with Vegas’ goaltending situation returning to near normal, Max Legace was reassigned to Chicago, making Leighton the odd man out once again.

He was returned to Arizona, but never pulled on a game sweater for the Roadrunners.

“They were just looking to trade me the whole time,” Leighton said.  “I was doing a lot of sitting around, not practicing much, kind of just waiting for a trade to happen.”

That move finally came on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh sent Josh Archibald, second-year goaltender Sean Maguire and a sixth round draft pick to Arizona in exchange for Leighton and a future fourth-round pick.  That has opened the door for the 17th year pro to play a prominent role with the Penguins.

At 36-years old, Leighton would be the oldest player on most teams in the AHL.  But, with Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos clocking in at 38, Leighton is happy to deflect some of the ‘old man’ jokes from his teammates.

“I’m actually really excited.  I’ve been the oldest guy on my team for a little while now,” he laughed when the subject was brought up.  “I played with Tommy in Carolina a long time ago, so it’s good to see a friendly face.”

But Kostopoulos isn’t the only player Leighton is familiar with inside the Coal Street locker room.  He’s also played alongside Ryan Haggerty (Rockford IceHogs), Tom Sestito (Adirondack Phantoms), and even Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest (Albany River Rats) during his AHL career.

“It’s difficult coming in meeting 25 new guys,” he said. “So to have a couple of friendly faces you’ve played with or at least played against, they know you, it makes it a lot better.”


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 19th season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including 22-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.


2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

PITTSBURGH ACQUIRES GOALTENDER MICHAEL LEIGHTON

Photo Courtesy Chicago Wolves

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired goaltender Michael Leighton and a 2019 fourth-round draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, goalie Sean Maguire and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick, it was announced today by Penguins executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The 2019 fourth-round draft pick acquired by the Penguins originally belonged to the Minnesota Wild.

Leighton, who is signed to a two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level, will report to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.

Leighton, 36, has split this season between the Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning organizations, spending time at the AHL level with the Syracuse Crunch and Chicago Wolves. He has played in a combined 14 AHL games this year, going 4-4-4 with one shutout.

A native of Petrolia, Ontario, Leighton is a five-time AHL All-Star who broke into professional hockey with the Norfolk Admirals back in 2001-02. Since then, he has won 20 games at the AHL level six times. During the 2007-08 campaign, Leighton was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year while playing for the Albany River Rats.

Leighton has played in 110 career NHL games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina. He played parts of three seasons with the Hurricanes from 2007-10 when Rutherford was Carolina’s GM.

Leighton backstopped the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2011 Stanley Cup Final appearance, going 8-3 with three shutouts in the postseason. He was originally drafted by Chicago in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 1999 NHL Draft.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 19th season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including 22-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information