WILKES-BARRE TWP. — For the second straight night the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins couldn’t settle things in regulation.
And on Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack, they couldn’t get it done in overtime either. But Jean-Sebastien Dea and Casey DeSmith made sure there was never a doubt in the shootout. Dea scored the only goal in the three-round shootout and DeSmith stopped all three Hartford shooters to lead the Penguins (4-2-0-0) to a 3-2 win. Gage Quinney scored in regulation to give him a goal in each of his first three AHL games and DeSmith stopped 26 of 28 shots.
While Quinney found the back of the net, his linemate, Daniel Sprong, failed to score for the first time this season. Sprong did have five shots on the night, and just because he didn’t score doesn’t mean he had a poor game, according to head coach Clark Donatelli.
“Everyone’s expecting him to score two or three a game. I thought he played well,” Donatelli said. “He had some good defensive plays, strong on the walls. The puck just didn’t go in for him.”
The puck didn’t go in that often for anyone on either team, as DeSmith and rookie netminder Alexandar Georgiev — who was playing in his second AHL game — both slammed the door. Georgiev, who is a 21-year old from Russia, stopped stopped all but two of the 43 shots he faced.
“He was great. He made some big saves and he controls his rebounds,” DeSmith said of his opponent in the other net. “We peppered him in the third, and no outside shots either. He made it really interesting.”
The Penguins played more disciplined for the second straight game, but the mistakes they did make allowed Hartford to gain an early lead. The Wolf Pack connected on their first two power plays — both in the opening frame — to gain a 2-0 lead. On the first power play, Frank Corrado lost his stick and Scott Kosmachuk connected on a shot down low.
Vinni Lettieri scored on the second power play when he deflected a shot over DeSmith.
“We give them a couple there on the power play, but other than that we bounced back,” Donatelli said. “We got more disciplined as the game went on.”
The Penguins responded less than a minute later to prevent the Wolf Pack from breaking the game open. Lukas Bengtsson shot the puck on net and Georgiev made the save but couldn’t corral the puck. Quinney gained possession behind the net and threw the puck out front where it bounced off a Hartford player and into the net.
Quinney’s goal made it 2-1 and gave him a tally in all three of his AHL games.
DeSmith took control of things in the second period, turning away all 12 Hartford shots he faced. DeSmith’s biggest save of the period also propelled the Penguins to a goal. At the midway point, Lettieri raced in on a breakaway and switched from his forehand to backhand in attempt to get the puck past DeSmith, who stretched out and kicked it away.
On the next shift, Dominik Simon hit Jarrett Burton in the slot who blasted a shot under the crossbar to tie it up, 2-2.
“If they tucked that one home, it was 3-1 late in the second period. That’s tough to overcome,” DeSmith said of his save. “That was a big save and hopefully it changed momentum to our side.”
The Penguins fired 16 shots in the third period but couldn’t beat Georgiev, and after a scoreless overtime both teams went to the shootout.
Dea was the only skated to score while DeSmith stopped all three Hartford shooters, including a save in close on a Adam Tambellini shot to seal the win.
- D Jeff Taylor (injury), D Ethan Prow, C Troy Josephs (injury), RW Patrick McGrath, D Jarred Tinordi (injury), D Dylan Zink, C Colin Smith (injury), RW Ryan Haggerty, LW Freddie Tiffels and LW Adam Johnson were scratched for the Penguins.
- Zach Aston-Reese returned to the lineup after a two-game absence while he recovered from having his wisdom teeth removed. He finished the game with two shots.
- D Kevin Spinozzi appeared in the first game of his pro career and recorded one shot. “He keeps it simple and he’s physical,” Donatelli said. “He brings some energy back there.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky