WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Paul Thompson could've easily skated off the ice and nobody would've blamed him.
After all, he had just been clocked by Rochester Americans defenseman T.J. Brennan as he carried the puck up ice during the final seconds of overtime.
Instead, Thompson collected himself, resisted the urge to go to the bench or track down Brennan, and scored the game-winning goal with 13 seconds left in overtime to give the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a 5-4 win – their first of the season.
After an 0-4 start, the Penguins approached Friday's game with a renewed sense of urgency, desperate to put an end to the winless streak.
It felt like a playoff game, a must-win, said Eric Tangradi, who scored a go-ahead goal in the third period. We're kind of in desperation mode right now. We need wins.
It didn't come easy Friday, after the Penguins endured yet another nightmarish start. The Americans scored just 38 seconds in, followed by a pair of penalties from Tangradi which the Penguins killed to prevent the score from snowballing.
It wasn't until Thompson collected his first of the night, on the power play at the 10-minute mark that the Penguins got rolling.
It was good for morale to not be down after the first period, Thompson said. We realized we were in the game and had a chance to win.
Thompson's goal – his first of the season -- evened things up heading into the second period, and that's when Warren Peters lifted home a backhander three minutes in for a 2-1 lead.
Rochester tied it three minutes later when a shot from the point was deflected in front of Brad Thiessen, who appeared to have absorbed the puck until it trickled behind him.
He can be better, said head coach John Hynes of Thiessen, who allowed four goals on 34 shots.
In the third period, Tangradi and Brian Gibbons scored to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead, but Rochester answered twice after it pulled goaltender David Leggio. Both goals came in the last two minutes and forced overtime. On the last Rochester goal, Tangradi appeared to be interfered with when he was knocked down in the neutral zone while skating back to defend.
Tangradi said he was surprised there was no call on the play.
Especially with me getting two suspect penalties early on in the first period. I feel like maybe sometimes there's a target on my back out there, he said. But that's the way it goes. We got two points so it's beside the point.
Thompson's overtime winner gave the Penguins the second point and earned the respect of his teammates. Thompson said he knew he couldn't retaliate after the hit by Brennan, and the decision paid off when a Simon Despres pass sprung him for a breakaway to win the game.
Awesome, is how Tangradi described Thompson's play.
The whole bench was fired up to see that. You light a fire under (Thompson), and he plays a special way.
D Carl Sneep, D Philip Samuelsson, C Zach Sill (upper body), C Jayson Megna (lower body), RW Tom Kuhnhackl, D Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), D Alex Grant, LW Denver Manderson and RW Keven Veilleux were scratched for the Penguins.
• Prior to Thompson's first period goal, the Penguins were outscored 8-0 in the opening frame this season.
Scoring – 1. RCH, Luke Adam 2 (Mancari, Biega) :38. 2. WBS, Paul Thompson 1 (Dupuis, Morrow) power play 10:18. Penalties – WBS, Tangradi (high-sticking) 1:14; WBS, Tangradi (tripping) 7:38; RCH, Hodgson (tripping) 8:26; RCH, Porter (interference) 12:15; WBS, Bennett (slashing) 19:12. Second Period
Scoring – 3. WBS, Warren Peters 1 (Holzapfel, Mormina) 3:14. 4. RCH, Evan Rankin 2 (Biega, Girgensons) 6:54. Penalties – WBS, Gibbons (holding) 7:32; RCH, Porter (slashing) 10:44; RCH, Adam (hooking) 15:57; WBS, Thompson (roughing) 19:13; RCH, Hodgson (goaltender interference) 19:56. Third Period
Scoring – 5. WBS, Eric Tangradi 2 (Thompson) 4:33. 6. WBS, Brian Gibbons 1 (Ferriero, Bennett) 15:05. 7. RCH, Kevin Porter 2 (Brennan, McNabb) 18:52. 8. RCH, Mark Mancari 3 (Porter, Brennan) 19:25. Penalties – RCH, Girgensons (diving) 10:48; WBS, Despres (slashing) 10:48. Overtime
Scoring- 9. WBS, Paul Thompson 2 (Despres) 4:46. Penalties – None. Shots on goal Rochester – 8-11-14-1-34 Penguins – 12-4-9-4-29 Power-play Opportunities Rochester – 0 of 5 Penguins – 1 of 5 Goaltenders Rochester – David Leggio 4-3-0 (25 saves – 30 shots) Penguins – Brad Thiessen 1-1-0 (30-34) Starters Rochester – G David Leggio, D Brayden McNabb, D Mark Pysyk, LW Marcus Foligno, C Cody Hodgson, RW Evan Rankin Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D Dylan Reese, D Brian Strait, LW Philippe Dupuis, C Warren Peters, RW Riley Holzapfel Three Stars 1. WBS, Paul Thompson (two goals, assist) 2. WBS, Eric Tangradi (goal). 3. WBS, Brian Gibbons (goal) Refere
e – Darcy Burchell, Ryan Murphy. Linesmen – Bob Goodman, Jud Ritter Attendance – 5,307