SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins continued their theme of third-period domination on Sunday.
This time, the team got an assist from the Syracuse Crunch. Several of them actually.
The Penguins cashed in the Crunch’s undisciplined play and mental mistakes to pot five third-period goals and rally for a 6-3 win in War Memorial Arena.
The Penguins netted two power-play goals and one short-handed marker in the final 20 minutes to roll past the stunned Crunch, who held a 2-1 lead after two.
Coming into the game, the Penguins had outscored foes by a combined 5-0 margin in the third period of its first two games, both wins.
“We know that if we can stay in games, we think the third period is our period,’’ said Penguins forward Jayson Megna, who scored the shorty. “We work for it. We have a belief in ourselves, in the locker room.’’
Tom Kostopolous scored two power-play goals and Nick Drazenovic, Harry Zolnierczyk and Dominik Uher also tallied for the Penguins. Overall, the Penguins netted three man-up goals.
“I think the special teams, we were fortunate to come out on the positive side of it. The power play wound up being able to score, so, that helped us,’’ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes said. “I think if we don’t capitalize on those situations, it’s a different game.”
Vladdy Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette and Matt Taormina registered markers for Syracuse.
Kostopolous’ second power-play goal of the game tied the contest at 2 just 55 seconds into the third. It was set up by a boarding call on the Crunch’s J.T. Brown, a penalty that Brown hotly disputed.
Kostopolous worked to a spot to the right of Crunch netminder Riku Helenius and deflected home a bid by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Brendan Mikkelson.
“He’s our leader,’’ Hynes said of Kostopolous. “It was a tough game, it’s a real good opponent that we were playing, there wasn’t a lot of space on the ice. He found a way to come up big for us, and that’s why he’s our captain.”
Drazenovic snapped the deadlock with a power-play tally at the 4:04 mark of the final period. With Crunch forward Philippe Paradis serving a 5-minute major for boarding the Penguins’ Nick D’Agostino, Drazenovic stickhandled around the lower right circle and snapped a hard shot past Helenius.
“We had confidence coming out (in) the third,’’ Drazenovic said. “We practice hard and we play hard to succeed in the third. Guys have that extra will to win.’’
Megna padded the Pens’ lead to 4-2 with a shorthanded score at the 8:48 mark of the third. Sprung by a pass from teammate Andrew Ebbett, he broke in alone on Helenius before solving him five-hole.
“It was a broken play on the wall. I was able to read it, and I took off,” Megna said. “I kind of bobbled he puck, and I think it threw the goalie off.”
Toarmina answered to cut the Crunch deficit to one goal midway through the third, whistling a shot from the right point through traffic and past Pens goalie Jeff Deslauriers to make it 4-3.
But Zolnierczyk batted in an insurance goal at the 14:20 mark, seconds after another Wilkes-Barre/Scranton power play ended, to put the Pens up by two again.
“It’s just we feel as games go on — we’ve been in tight games, basically every game we’ve played — it’s just maintaining the focus and making sure we continue to play the way we want to play and get some big plays at key times,” Hynes said.
Uher added an empty-netter with 1:26 remaining to set the final margin.
Scoring — 1, Penguins, Kostopoulos 1 (Drazenovic, Harrington), 17:28 (PP). Penalties — Payerl Wbs (roughing), 3:31; Richard Syr (roughing), 3:31; Nesterov Syr (delay of game), 10:35; Zolnierczyk Wbs (interference), 13:53; Rankin Syr (hooking), 16:10; Dumoulin Wbs (hooking), 18:54.
Scoring — 2, Syracuse, Namestnikov 1 (Taormina, Nesterov), 10:49 (PP). 3, Syracuse, Paquette 1 (Rankin), 14:39 (SH). Penalties — Kuhnhackl Wbs (hooking), 3:51; Mormina Syr (tripping), 5:05; Samuelsson Wbs (interference), 9:25; Paradis Syr (interference), 13:20; Paradis Syr (slashing), 17:33.
Scoring — 4, Penguins, Kostopoulos 2 (Mikkelson, Drazenovic), 0:55 (PP). 5, Penguins, Drazenovic 1 (Conner, Mikkelson), 4:04 (PP). 6, Penguins, Megna 1 (Ebbett), 8:48 (SH). 7, Syracuse, Taormina 1 (Walker, Richard), 10:26. 8, Penguins, Zolnierczyk 3 (Sill, Despres), 14:20. 9, Penguins, Uher 1 (Deslauriers), 18:34 (EN). Penalties — Despres Wbs (fighting), 0:22; Brown Syr (boarding), 0:22; Sergeev Syr (fighting), 0:22; Sill Wbs (fighting), 3:16; Paquette Syr (fighting, major - boarding), 3:16; Paradis Syr (misconduct), 3:16; Kuhnhackl Wbs (holding), 7:05; Kucherov Syr (hooking), 12:14.
Shots on Goal
Power Play Opportunities — Penguins 3-9; Syracuse 1- 5.
Goalies — Penguins, Deslauriers 3-0-0 (29 shots-26 saves). Syracuse, Helenius 1-1-0 (26 shots-21 saves).
A — 4,049
Referees — T.J. Luxmore (49), Nic Leduc (12).
Linesmen — Derek Sylvester (76), Francis Trempe (56).