WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins battled back from a two-goal deficit, defeating the Springfield Thunderbirds, 6-3, on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (15-7-1-1) tallied five unanswered goals in the final two frames to earn its second win in a row. Rookies Daniel Sprong (2G-0A) and Zach Aston-Reese (0G-3A) led the offensive onslaught for the Penguins, and Patrick McGrath (1G-0A) scored the second AHL goal of his career and first on home ice.
Andrey Pedan put the home team on board first at 14:55 of the opening frame, but the Thunderbirds evened things up less than two minutes on a point shot by Maxime Fortunus. Springfield pulled ahead, 2-1, just 90 seconds later when Maxim Mamin used slick stickhandling in a tight space at Casey DeSmith’s netfront and lifted the puck over the goaltender.
The Thunderbirds’ lead increased to 3-1 at 8:43 of the middle frame when a strange bounce victimized DeSmith and the Penguins. Chase Balisy attempted a cross-slot pass that ricocheted off of a Penguins defenseman’s boot and then snuck through DeSmith.
Unfazed by the inopportune puck luck, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took over from there.
The Penguins’ run of five unanswered goals started with Greg McKegg scooped up a rebound floating around Samuel Montembeault for his first goal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 12:50 of the second period. Less than three minutes later, Sprong scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season by ripping a blistering one-timer to tie the game, 3-3.
The Penguins regained the lead at 5:07 of the final period as Sprong notched his team-leading 14th goal of the year. Following a wonderful forecheck, Aston-Reese set-up Ryan Haggerty 8:24 into the third stanza for a tally that extended Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead to 5-3.
McGrath, a Shavertown, Pennsylvania native, put the game away with an empty-netter with just 1:07 left in regulation, bringing the game to its final score of 6-3.
DeSmith turned aside 24 of the 27 shots he faced in his first game back with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after a two-week stint in Pittsburgh. Montembeault denied 30 of 35 for Springfield.
The Penguins’ next game is Friday, Dec. 15 when they trek up to Connecticut to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils. Puck drop between the Penguins and Devils is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. 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-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.