Penguins' 4-Goal Explosion Dooms T-Birds

Dec 17, 2016
Wilkes-Barre, PA The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-10-3-2) fell victim to a four-goal stretch from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (19-5-3-0) in a 4-2 loss on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. 
With a packed house at the Mohegan Sun Arena anxiously awaiting a chance to throw teddy bears onto the ice for the Penguins’ annual Teddy Bear Toss, Mike McKenna made sure the patrons would have to wait. The best chance for the Penguins in the opening period came when captain Tom Kostopoulos picked up a rebound to the left of McKenna. He slid a second effort toward the goal line only to see Sena Acolatse yank it off the goal line to keep the game scoreless.

At the other end, the Thunderbirds survived the early push and then earned a power play for themselves, only to see Tristan Jarry stymie the advantage. Jarry had committed the penalty himself by trippingAnthony Greco in behind the net. The Penguins goalie finished his first period with 10 saves. McKenna raised him a 13-for-13 performance, which included a successful kill of a Penguins’ power play that had been 10 of its prior 24 on chances.

Entering play on Saturday, the two teams had combined for just four goals in the prior two games of the season series, and the goaltenders tried to maintain that trend into the early stages of the second.

Jarry made a save on Chase Balisy from point blank range at the 2:18 mark, only to see the rebound skitter off a Penguin and in behind the helpless netminder to give Springfield the 1-0 lead. 

McKenna did his best to withstand the feverish Penguins’ push, including a 180-degree spinning save on Reid Gardiner after McKenna had been tied up in front with his back to the puck as Gardiner received the pass.

Finally, on a power play at 7:10, the Penguins brought about their teddy bear tsunami, as David Warsofsky was credited with his fifth goal of the season to tie the game, 1-1.

Following the clean-up, the Penguins lost no momentum, potting a pair of goals in short order. First, Oskar Sundqvist camped out on the doorstep and poked home a bouncing puck that squeezed through McKenna at 16:06. 

With the 2-1 lead, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasted no time finding some insurance, as they earned a power play and, in turn, saw Garrett Wilson snap home a rebound off a Sundqvist backhand attempt at 17:03 to give the Penguins the 3-1 edge heading into the third. 

The Penguins put the game away early in the third thanks to their rookie phenom, as Jake Guentzel beat McKenna on a toe-drag move on a 2-on-1 at 5:01 to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on top, 4-1.

The Thunderbirds got one back in the final four minutes, courtesy of Anthony Greco’s fourth of the season, but it was too little, too late. Acolatse finished the night with two assists, and Balisy finished with a goal and a helper in the losing effort. McKenna once again set the franchise record for saves in a night with 38 on 42 Penguin shot attempts. 
The Thunderbirds finish their 3-in-3 weekend with 5:00 p.m. ET tilt in Hershey on Sunday against the Bears. 


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