Oskar Sunqvist talks about Satruday’s win over Springfield
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Oskar Sundqvist made a big claim after Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds, and the numbers back it up.
On a night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (19-5-3-0) turned in a three-goal second period against a team that held them to just one goal in the two previous meetings, Sundqvist stated the obvious.
“It’s hard to play against us right now,” he said.
That’s for sure.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has now won five straight, and during that span the penalty kill has been perfect on 18 chances, the power play is firing at a 7-for-18 clip and the Penguins have out-scored their opponents 24-8.
Going into a week-long Christmas break, the Penguins and Thunderbirds both got off to an uneventful first period, but that didn’t last.
In a wild second period, both teams exchanged goals created by miscues.
Springfield got theirs when the puck hit Danny Kristo’s skate and deflected through Tristan Jarry to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, while on the power play, the Penguins evened things up when Springfield’s Ian McCoshen fanned on a clearing attempt and hit the puck on the back-swing, pushing it past goaltender Mike McKenna. David Warsofsky was credited with the goal after firing a shot on net to create the play.
“After that we wanted to settle it down, get pucks in deep, get our forecheck going and get some o-zone time,” said head coach Clark Donatelli. “We did that.”
Late in the period the Penguins tallied a pair of goals, and they didn’t need Springfield’s help, to take a 3-1 lead.
On their third power play of the night, Tim Erixon sent a shot in from the point that slid underneath McKenna as Sundqvist rushed to poke it it.
With the goal, Sundqvist now has five tallies and nine points in his last five games.
Less than a minute later, Garrett Wilson cleaned up a rebound with a wrister into the top corner for a two-goal lead and the Penguins’ second power play goal.
“We know they’re a good team over there. Getting that third goal was big,” Donatelli said.
At the end of the period, Springfield’s Anthony Greco was assessed a double-minor for getting a stick up high on Erixon, and the Penguins entered the third period with 3:25 of power play time.
The Penguins didn’t connect on the power play, but Jake Guentzel gave them breathing room when he slid into the low slot and placed a shot past McKenna for a 4-1 lead.
The goal was Guentzel’s fifth since returning from Pittsburgh and his ninth point in the last six games.
Springfield tallied a goal late in the third period but couldn’t mount a comeback after that.
As they head into the break, Sundqvist offered a prediction as well.
He said the Penguins will come back even stronger.
“We just have to keep rolling,” he said. “We’re a team with confidence right now. We’re on the opposing team the whole time and we keep coming.”
– D Ethan Prow, RW Patrick McGrath, C Carter Rowney (injury), C Jarrett Burton, LW Sahir Gill, C Thomas Di Pauli (injury) and RW Ryan Haggerty were scratched for the Penguins.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TLTomVenesky