SYRACUSE, N.Y. ‚?? A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins team that couldn‚??t buy a win in the season‚??s early going now can‚??t seem to lose.
Or so one might think on the strength of the Penguins 4-1 win over the previously unbeaten (in regulation) Syracuse Crunch, before 5,288 at the OnCenter on Saturday.
A trio of Penguins hit the goal column, while netminder Jeff Zatkoff ‚?? a former AHL All-Star with the Manchester Monarchs ‚?? posted his first win in the Penguins net.
The win was the second in a row for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which had dropped its first four games of the year.
The Pens shrugged off an early goal by Syracuse sniper Cory Conacher 38 seconds into the contest, and by the end of the second period had scored three consecutive goals.
Eric Tangradi got the Pens going at 14:10 of the first, when he cashed in a feed from Alex Grant.
It was his third goal of the season.
The Penguins dodged a bullet in the waning moments of the period, when Conacher pounced on a rebound off the post. But with goalie Zatkoff down, Conacher missed the yawning target, leaving the teams tied at 1 after the first.
Riley Holzapfel gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 5:35 of the second and Beau Bennett scored 2:22 later to provide them with a two-goal lead.
Holzapfel‚??s tally, his second of the season, came on a slap shot from the low left circle that beat Syracuse goalie Dustin Tokarski (25 saves).
Bennett, Pittsburgh‚??s first round draft choice (20th overall) in 2010, scored his first goal as a pro when he chased down his own carom off the back boards and fired it past Tokarski.
Zatkoff made eight of his 32 stops in the third period, when the Penguins had to kill off a pair of Syracuse power plays.
Tangradi sealed the win his second of the night, and empty netter with 1:54 remaining.
Defensemen Philip Samuelsson and Grant, scratches on Friday in the win against Hershey, inserted into the lineup against the Crunch. They replaced Brian Dumoulin and Joe Morrow. ‚?Ľ The Penguins will cap their busy three-game weekend, Sunday, when they‚??ll make their first trip of the season to Hershey. ‚?Ľ
First Period: 1. SYR, Conacher (Killorn Connolly), 0:38; 2. PENS, Tangradi (Grant), 14:10 Second Period: 1. PENS, Holzapfel, (Gibbons, Reese), 5:35; 2. PENS, Bennt (Smith, Ferriero), 7:57 Third Period: 1. PENS, Tangrandi, 18:06 Arena Ononganda County War Memorial Attendance 5,288 Three Stars PENS- Eric Tangrandi, SYR ‚?? Cory Conacher, 3. PENS ‚?? Jeff Zatkoff O
fficials: Dave Banfioeld, Referee; Joe deMizio, Linesman; Mike Hmailton, Linesman