WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Five seconds into Friday’s game against the Hershey Bears, Andrey Pedan set the tone when he dropped the gloves with Zach Sill.
For the rest of the game, Pedan backed it up.
Pedan’s power-play goal in the first period forced a tie, and his tally in the third period won the game as the Penguins (27-12-3-1) beat Hershey 4-1.
Kevin Czuczman added an insurance goal later in the third period, and the three of the four goals came from defensemen as the Penguins lost forward Ryan Haggerty early in the contest.
The Penguins knew the Bears, who are in last place in the Atlantic Division, would come out hard and they did when Sill challenged Pedan off the opening faceoff.
“Siller wanted that and (Pedan) isn’t going to back down,” said head coach Clark Donatelli. “Sill is a tough kid. It was good to get it going right off the bat.”
Hershey was first to get it going on the scoreboard when Kevin Spinozzi was stripped of the puck in the offensive zone and Riley Barber put the puck home for a 1-0 lead.
Pedan erased the early miscue when he blasted a rocket from the top of the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal late in the period.
“He’s got a great shot and he gets it through. You put him on the power play for that reason,” Donatelli said.
Pedan’s tally — his sixth of the season — sent a 1-1 tie into the second period.
Hershey continued to mount pressure in the offensive zone, but Tristan Jarry kept the Bears off the board, stopping nine shots in the period including a point-blank save on Mathias Bau from the corner.
Pedan broke the 1-1 tie with his second of the game five minutes into the third period. Joining a three-on-one rush, Pedan cruised into the low slot and one-timed a pass from Greg McKegg to beat Pheonix Copley.
“I had momentum coming out of the D zone. McKegg made a really nice pass over the stick and I just had to put it on net,” Pedan said. “I knew he’d see me there.”
The goal tied Pedan’s career high of seven in a season and was his second multi-goal game of the season, and the Penguins weren’t finished.
Czuczman gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a two-goal lead when he chipped a shot in from the blueline that got past Copley thanks to a screen from Garrett Wilson in front.
The Penguins sealed the win when Daniel Sprong set up Jarrett Burton for an empty net goal with 2:15 remaining to make it 4-1. The assist was Sprong’s second of the game.
— Ryan Haggerty left the game in the first period after suffering a lower body injury. He is day-to-day and unlikely to play Saturday against Lehigh Valley, according to Donatelli. Tom Kostopoulos sat out with an injury and is also day-to-day. Defenseman Zach Trotman was scratched due to an injury and will be out for a few weeks, while Jarred Tinordi missed the game with an illness.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky