ROCHESTER, N.Y. ‚?? There is poetic justice, even in preseason hockey.
So discovered Wilkes-Barre/Scranton‚??s Brian Gibbons. His empty-netter with 44 seconds remaining in the third period actually turned out to be the game-winner in the Penguins‚?? 4-3 triumph over Rochester in their first tune up tilt of the preseason on Wednesday at The Sports Center at MCC.
Gibbons, who had been denied on three breakaways, including two in the first period, slung in a 130-footer, which at the time appeared to be a bit of insurance.
‚??I‚??ve been practicing those,‚?Ě said Gibbons, who is heading into his second season with the Pens. ‚??I‚??m glad it paid off.‚?Ě
That tally became more important when Rochester‚??s Brayden McNabb scored just before the final horn, capping a frantic final two minutes that saw Adam Payerl give the Penguins a 3-2 lead with 1:52 to play.
With Rochester then skating 6-on-4 and pressing in the Penguins zone, Gibbons saw a chance to ice the result, and made the most of it.
‚??(With us) shorthanded,‚?Ě Gibbons said, ‚??I knew I could ice it if I had to. I turned my head around and looked. I figured there was no harm in taking a shot. So I ripped it, and luckily enough it went in.‚?Ě
The Penguins held a 2-0 lead midway through the second period but couldn‚??t hold it as they surrendered a pair of power-play markers to the Americans.
Paul Thompson struck first, unassisted, for the Penguins at 15:10 of the first, when he was allowed to barge in on Rochester goalie David Leggio and bang in his own rebound.
Jayson Megna gave the Penguins a two-goal lead at 9:12 of the second, when he popped in a loose puck. Assists went to fellow rookies Tom Kuhnhackl and Brian Dumoulin.
‚??I realize that at this level,‚?Ě said Dumoulin, who is one of five former Boston College Eagles (Gibbons is another) on the Penguins, ‚??that guys are good at blocking shots.
‚??I‚??ve been working on getting pucks off quicker, and if I can get it to the net, hopefully it can pay off in some goals.‚?Ě
The Penguins, however, hit penalty trouble late in the period and gave up markers by Luke Adam and Phil Varone, which knotted the score at 2-2.
‚??We had a lot of younger guys here,‚?Ě Penguins coach John Hynes said. ‚??So it was good to see them play with energy and emotion.‚?Ě