HERSHEY — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins managed just 13 shots against the Hershey Bears on Sunday at the Giant Center, but head coach Clark Donatelli cautioned to not read too much into it.
After all, when a team scores five goals on those 13 shots, the stat matters much less than the score.
The Penguins (10-2-0-1) controlled the flow for most of the game and Casey DeSmith turned in another superb performance, stopping 31 of 32 shots, to beat the Bears, 5-1. The win is the third in a row for the Penguins, who now have recorded at least one point in their last 10 contests.
As for the lack of shots on Sunday, Donatelli wasn’t concerned.
“Shots don’t reflect (how we played),” he said. “You could have 40 shots and say you had a good night, and then you get 13 and say it’s a bad night, but you get five goals.”
The Penguins took control early when Jarred Tinordi scored his second goal in as many games. Jumping into the play, Tinordi wristed a Colin Smith pass past Vitek Vanecek for a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Zach Aston-Reese scored on the power play to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. The goal was the second of the season for Aston-Reese and it would prove to be the game-winner.
While the shots were hard to come by for the Penguins in the second period as they managed only four, they scored on half of them.
After Dustin Gazley scored for Hershey, the Penguins answered 58 seconds later when Thomas Di Pauli blazed a wrister into the top corner.
Di Pauli’s goal — his sixth, made it 3-1 and a minute later Daniel Sprong extended the lead. Gaining the puck in the neutral zone, Sprong blew past the Hershey defense and tucked a shot between Vanecek’s skate and the post as the Penguins gained a commanding 4-1 lead.
The quick strikes erased any chance for the Bears to swing momentum their way.
“We’re a team that doesn’t sit back,” Sprong said. “When the other team scores, we have to come out there and get the momentum back.”
At the other end, DeSmith was stellar. In the first period he stopped a shot from Gazley with the toe of his skate, and in the second DeSmith robbed Wayne Simpson with his pad to take away an open net.
While the Penguins struggled to generate shots — they had four in the second period and three in the third — Hershey had an equally hard time beating DeSmith, who stopped all but one of 32 shots.
DeSmith was also pivotal in keeping the Bears off the board during two Hershey power plays in the third period to maintain the lead.
“They’re a desperate hockey club trying to pour it on late at home,” DeSmith said. “They’re not going to quit. Our penalty kill did a great job in the third when they could’ve gotten some life.”
Smith iced the game with an empty net goal with just under five minutes to play to make it 5-1.
Sprong said despite the lack of shots the win was a pretty complete effort by the Penguins.
“When we’re on our game we do everything well. When we’re playing our game we’re a hard team to beat,” he said. “At times, on five-on-five, we played that way and we dominated the game.”
Patrick McGrath played in his first game of the season, filling in for Tom Sestito. Gage Quinney also sat out on Sunday and was replaced by Jarrett Burton.