WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – In a showdown with the Syracuse Crunch, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were the victors, 5-3, on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. It was the fourth win in a row for the Penguins and the first regulation road loss for the Crunch this season (9-1-0-1).
The Penguins got the early jump on the Crunch and took a 1-0 lead 3:09 into contest when Phil Dupuis looked to have scored with a backhander on a mini-breakaway. The shot clanged off the post and was eventually controlled by Dylan Reese. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman threw the puck back toward the net where Trevor Smith redirected it over the shoulder of Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski.
Syracuse was able to even the score with 1:02 remaining until the first intermission. Radko Gudas stole a pass in the far corner of the Penguins zone and sent a backdoor pass that was knocked in by Richard Panik.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pulled ahead in the second period, 3-1, on goals by a pair of first-year players. Beau Bennett worked a give-and-go with Riley Holzapfel before squeezing a wrist shot inside the right corner of the net at 8:49.
Skating on the power play late in the period, Brian Dumoulin controlled a face-off win and unleashed a shot that sailed by Tokarski’s blocker with 2:07 until the break. The goal was the first of Dumoulin’s pro career. Tokarski finished the game with 32 saves.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enjoyed more than six minutes of consecutive power play time in the third period and went up, 4-1, at 9:24 of the period as Bennett sauced a pass from deep inside his own zone that sprung Holzapfel for a breakaway goal.
The Crunch answered back 1:21 later on Brett Connolly’s tally before Philip-Michael Devos got his team within one, sweeping a shot on the power play with 2:37 left in regulation.
Smith iced the game for the Penguins with his second marker of the game - an empty netter with 6.1 seconds remaining.
Jeff Zatkoff earned his eighth win in nine starts, making 23 saves on 26 shots to go to 9-5-0.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play the St. John’s IceCaps on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.