WILKES-BARRE TWP. — When Jean-Sebastien Dea snapped a 15-game goal-less drought with a tally in the second period on Saturday, he pretended to grab the “monkey” off his back and throw it to the crowd.
In the third period, when Dea scored his second goal against the Belleville Senators, he used the back of goaltender Chris Driedger by banking a shot off his nameplate and into the net.
Dea’s two-goal night snapped a 15-game goal-less streak and led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (21-10-2-1) to a 6-0 win — the team’s fifth in a row. Casey DeSmith stopped 24 shots for his second shutout, and Christian Thomas added a two goals and an assist. After scoring twice in the first period, the Penguins added three more goals in the final frame to put the game out of reach.
“We came out hot. We capped it off with a great third period,” DeSmith said. “It was pretty close to a full 60 minutes tonight which is something that’s been difficult for us to do this year.”
The Penguins got off to a fast start that established their dominance for the rest of the game.
Thomas struck first when he connected with a wrist shot from the high slot less than eight minutes into the game. Two minutes, later, Zach Trotman made it 2-0 with a shot from the point.
Trotman’s shot was the 11th for the Penguins, compared to two for the Senators.
At the other end, DeSmith was as dominant as his team’s offense. He stopped Max McMormick on a breakaway and turned away all 17 shots he faced after the first two periods.
“He looked sharp. There were stretches he wasn’t getting a lot of work and all of a sudden he’s getting peppered,” said head coach Clark Donatelli of DeSmith’s effort. “He had that calming presence in the net tonight that you just knew he was on his game.”
Dea cushioned the Penguins’ lead late in the second period when he broke toward the net and tipped home a lead pass from Thomas to make it 3-0.
And for Dea’s second goal of the night, he rushed in on Driedger and fired before picking up the rebound behind the net and banking the puck off the goaltender’s back and in. The tally marked Dea’s first two-goal game of the season and gave the Penguins a 4-0 lead in the third period.
“It feels good. I’m not going to lie,” Dea said of his two goals. “It’s been a while. I’ve been getting my chances every game, and tonight it went in.”
Ethan Prow made it 5-0 with a shot from the point that made it through while Garrett Wilson provided traffic in front, followed by another wrister from Thomas to put the Penguins up 6-0 with three minutes remaining.
The five-game win streak has moved the Penguins into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division and within striking distance of first place Providence.
The key to the current success, according to Dea, has been getting off to a better start each game.
“The start was always something we were missing. We were always trying to catch up,” Dea said. “The last couple games, we get the first goal it’s easier to get going and we play with more poise.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky