WILKES-BARRE TWP. — One practice is all it took.
With a lineup full of regulars for Friday’s preseason game against the Binghamton Devils, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dominated their way to a 6-2 win, highlighted by a four-goal outburst in the first period.
For a group that practiced together for the first time on Thursday, Friday’s game showed there is already plenty of chemistry to go along with tons of skill.
Garrett Wilson had a goal and two assists, Tom Kostopoulos had a goal and an assist, as did Adam Johnson, and Zach Aston-Reese and Daniel Sprong each added two helpers.
“A lot of us played together at the rookie tournament, so we had some chemistry coming in,” Sprong said. “That gives us some confidence, and it’s nice we’re all on the same page so quick.”
The results came just as fast.
Wilson put home a nice backhand pass from Kostopoulos in front, Johnson posted at the corner of the net to punch in a rebound, Zach Trotman blasted a shot from the top and Kostopoulos slammed in a loose puck along the post to round out the scoring in the opening period.
While the Penguins, who dressed three lines of regulars, clicked all night — Dominik Simon pounced on a turnover in the second period for the fifth goal — perhaps the most impressive aspect was the first power play unit.
On paper, the group is impressive with Johnson at center surrounded by Kostopoulos, Aston-Reese, Sprong and Lukas Bengtsson.
On the ice, they are nearly unstoppable.
That was apparent in the first period when the group connected on a two-man advantage with Kostopoulos’ shot near the post, and they stayed on the ice and scored again with Johnson’s goal just as the remaining power play time expired.
“It’s really fun,” Bengtsson said. “I feel we have a really good combination out there and we get a lot of shots.”
Equally impressive was the game turned in by Kostopoulos, who had a goal, assist and a fight for the Gordie Howe hat trick in his first preseason game.
The fight occurred after Binghamton’s Brandon Baddock hit Jarred Tinordi near the net. Tinordi was hurt on the play and Kostopoulos skated in and immediately dropped the gloves with Baddock.
“That shows how good he is as a captain and what a leader he is,” Bengtsson said. “He’s been playing for a while, and he keeps going, doing the same thing every year.”
Defenseman Kevin Czuczman finished the scoring when he skated into the zone into the zone in the third period and blasted a shot into the back of the net to make it 6-2.
The Penguins are now 1-1 in the preseason and travel to Hershey on Saturday to face the Bears.
• Tinordi left the game in the second period and didn’t return. Penguins coach Clark Donatelli didn’t have an update on his condition.
• Goaltender Tristan Jarry played the entire game and Casey DeSmith will play a full 60 minutes against Hershey. Donatelli said the lineup will feature a few changes as well.
• The start of Friday’s game was delayed by about 30 minutes due to a problem with the ice.
• The Penguins’ fourth line consisted of Sam Miletic, Gage Quinney and Reid Gardiner. Thomas Di Pauli, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Jarrett Burton and Ryan Haggerty sat out.