PENGUINS DENY ISLES’ COMEBACK IN 4-3 WIN
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins picked up a 4-3 win by surviving an inspired comeback attempt by the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday night at Total Mortgage Arena.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (19-12-5-0) built a three-goal lead on a trio of pretty goals throughout the first two periods, only to see that lead slip away. But before the game could reach overtime, Jonathan Gruden delivered the game-winning goal for the Penguins with 1:42 left in regulation.
The Penguins took control of the game early on, with a pair of tallies separated by three minutes and twelve seconds of game time. First, Jagger Joshua and Ty Smith executed a smooth give-and-go in the offensive zone, and when Smith was turned away by Islanders goalie Henrik Tikkanen, Joshua was there to pound in the rebound.
Shortly thereafter, Sam Poulin earned himself a breakaway by intercepting a pass out of midair. Poulin raced ahead and beat Tikkanen down low to make it 2-0.
Corey Andonovski wasted little time extending the Penguins’ lead to three, snapping a perfect shot under the crossbar 2:38 into the second period.
Penguins goalie Magnus Hellberg put forth a herculean effort during an extended five-on-three power play for Bridgeport in the middle frame, turning away five shots during the two-man advantage to keep the Islanders off the board.
However, another power play late in the period allowed William Dufour to finally solve Hellberg and make it a 3-1 game.
Reece Newkirk pulled up at the top of the left circle and rifled a wrist shot past Hellberg three minutes into the third period. Bridgeport tied things up, 3-3, at 16:11 of the final frame with Trevor Cosgrove’s first AHL goal.
With time winding down, Jack Rathbone uncorked a slapshot towards the Islanders’ net. Gruden got a piece of the shot for a redirect that leaked between Tikkanen’s legs and trickled across the goal line.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came up with several key shot blocks in the dying embers of regulation to secure the win. Hellberg finished with a 32-save effort, while Tikkanen made 23 stops in the loss.
The Penguins are back at it again on Monday, Jan. 15 against the Springfield Thunderbirds. The matinée between the Penguins and T-Birds is slated for a 3:05 p.m. start at MassMutual Center.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home is Wednesday, Jan. 17, when the Providence Bruins come to town. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins will be 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Season-ticket packages for the Penguins’ 25th season of hockey are on sale now. Full-Season, 22-game, 12-game, Flexbook and Premium Seating plans are available by reaching out to the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367. Individual-game tickets are also available by visiting Ticketmaster.com, the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office or calling the Penguins’ front office at (570) 208-7367.