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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Penguins Rebound For Win Over Thunderbirds

Penguins Rebound For Win Over Thunderbirds

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds debuted their new third jerseys on the ice on Saturday night as they played host to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at MassMutual Center in a tightly contested tilt. For the second straight game, the Penguins bent but did not break as they recovered from a deficit in the third period and took a 3-2 decision in a shootout to spoil the debut of the new threads. Filip Lindberg took the win with 33 saves, while Joel Hofer suffered the loss with 40 stops as the Thunderbirds’ struggles continued in this game. Sam Poulin scored in the game and tallied the shootout winner in the bottom of the third round to secure the win.

Despite the relatively low scoring in this one, if you’re a fan of offense, it was a good game to be in the building for between these two teams as each team hit double digits in terms of shots, except for Springfield hitting only eight in the third. Springfield opened the scoring in the last minute of the first period with Hugh McGing’s fourth of the season, as he fired a laser past Lindberg from the left circle. The Penguins evened the score in the second period with Poulin’s goal, a deflection in the slot on a shot from Jon Lizotte.

We dare you to try and say that five times real fast.

The Thunderbirds would respond at the end of the second period with another goal in the last minute, this one with only three seconds to spare on Will Bitten’s seventh goal of the season on the power play. Springfield was the only team to capitalize on the power play on four opportunities to Wilkes-Barre’s two chances. The goal is important for Bitten to get on the board with only two points in his last eight games.

Much like they did a day ago against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Penguins used a third-period comeback to push the game to extra time. It’d follow a similar script as a day ago as Valtteri Puustinen took a lead pass from Drew O’Connor in the neutral zone and beat the Thunderbirds’ defense and Hofer in impressive fashion to even the score at two apiece. In the shootout, similar trends emerged as Alex Nylander matched the first-round goal from Dmitrii Samorukov, and Poulin tallied in the bottom of the third round to give the Penguins the extra point.

The win gives the Penguins points in their last four games, 3-0-0-1 in that span, making them among the hottest teams in the Atlantic Division. The loss continues the recent struggles for the Thunderbirds, who are 3-4-0-3 in their last ten games and are tied for sixth place in the division. The defending Eastern Conference Champions will continue to be tested on Sunday when they visit the Bridgeport Islanders, who are 3-0-1-0 in their last four games. Wilkes-Barre will put their winning streak on the line when they visit their interstate rivals, the Hershey Bears, on Tuesday at Giant Center in the fifth installment of the season series. The Bears and Penguins both won shootouts in nearly identical fashion on Saturday, with each team boasting the league’s top goaltenders in Hershey’s Hunter Shepard and Wilkes-Barre’s Dustin Tokarski; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a goaltending duel in that game.

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