WILKES-BARRE TWP. — In an attempt to build an advantage, Dylan Reese unleashed a sizzling 35-foot slap shot that was redirected into the net by a teammate.
He didn't need any help with his next opportunity.
After assisting on a first-period goal Saturday, Reese rifled home a second-period power play shot as well. The defenseman got a stick on two of the game's most pivotal goals as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stuck it to St. John's 5-3 at Mohegan Sun Arena in a record-tying victory for head coach John Hynes.
That's a big win in front of a greatly crowded building, said Reese, who helped the Penguins upend an AHL division leader for the second straight night. These games were two of the fastest, best games I've seen this year.
It couldn't get much better for Hynes, who equaled Glenn Patrick's franchise record of 115 career coaching victories in little more than two years at the Penguins' helm.
I had no idea, Hynes said. It's obviously impressive. If you look at the names of coaches who came through here, it's a great honor.
It didn't come easy.
For Hynes to match the franchise mark this weekend, the Penguins had to go through their East Division-leading rival Syracuse on Friday, then take down Atlantic Division leader St. John's.
But the Penguins handled both big guns in similar fashion, using a fast start to grab the upper hand and an empty-net goal to salt away victory both nights – both by identical 5-3 scores – while improving to 13-7-0-0.
That was a good effort, Hynes said. The energy level, the compete level was the thing that made the most difference.
For the second straight night, Trevor Smith made a difference.
He got the scoring started for the Penguins once again by getting off a shot in traffic that teammate Eric Tangradi couldn't. The result was Smith's third goal in two games and his eighth of the season.
Moments later, Reese unleashed a 35-foot slapshot that nicked the stick of his Penguins teammate Warren Peters, who got the goal as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton grabbed a 2-0 lead just 3:07 into the night.
I was just so excited to get two goals that quick in the game, Reese said. That was as good a first period as I've seen. We were just flying.
That feeling of superiority crashed quickly.
Jason Jaffray scored for St. John's in a four-on-four matchup with 70 seconds remaining in the opening period, then Raymond Sawada tied it off a faceoff midway through the second period.
Even though we got off to a great start, they're a resilient team, Hynes said.
So is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Reese slammed home a power-play goal just 20 seconds before the second period expired, giving the Penguins the lead to keep.
It's something I've been trying to do from that right point position, Reese said of his rapid shooting.
Dylan's a high-energy player, Hynes said, brings a lot of positive energy.
The Penguins found even more in the final period.
Benn Ferriero, who watched both of his linemates Beau Bennett and Riley Holzapfel score goals Friday, finally got one himself – with an assist from both of them – to put the Penguins up 4-2 just over two minutes into the third period. And after the IceCaps closed within 4-3, Holzapfel polished off victory for the Penguins with an empty-net goal.
Penguins 5, St. John's 3
First period—1. Penguins, Despres 3 (Smith, Tangradi), 1:23. 2. Penguins, Peters 3 (Reese, Sill), 3:07. 3. St. John's, Jaffray 3 (Postma, Machacek), 18:50. Penalties-Arsene STJ (hooking), 7:45; Arsene STJ (cross-checking, fighting), 18:05; Farnham WBS (fighting), 18:05; Tangradi WBS (tripping), 18:10
Second period—4. St. John's, Sawada 3 (Melchiori, Jaffray), 3:45. 5. Penguins, Reese 3 (Dupuis, Megna), 19:40 (PP). Penalties-Meech STJ (boarding), 6:23; Strait WBS (holding), 11:14; Sawada STJ (high-sticking), 13:54; served by Farnham WBS (bench minor - too many men), 16:06; Redmond STJ (slashing), 17:59
Third period—6. Penguins, Ferriero 2 (Holzapfel, Bennett), 2:14. 7. St. John's, Machacek 4 (Maxwell, Jaffray), 13:47. 8. Penguins, Holzapfel 6 (Dupuis), 18:55 (EN). Penalties-Postma STJ (interference), 7:13; Holzapfel WBS (tripping), 16:50
Shots on goal—St. John's, 5-5-6-16. Penguins, 13-10-6-29
Power-play opportunities—St. John's 0-4; Penguins 1-6
Goalies—St. John's, Pasquale 6-7-1 (28 shots-24 saves). Penguins, Zatkoff 10-5-0 (16 shots-13 saves)
Referee—Ryan Hersey. Linesmen—Scott Pomento, Jud Ritter