T-Birds Try for 3rd Straight Win Over Penguins

Dec 17, 2016
(Photo Courtesy Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins)
Wilkes-Barre, PA The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-9-3-2) will look to pick up their fourth victory in the last five games on Saturday as they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (18-5-3-0) at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
The Thunderbirds have come away victorious in the prior two matchups with the Penguins this season despite there being a total of four goals between the two clubs in the two matchups. Reto Berra, who picked up his seventh win of the season on Friday with a 35-save effort, shut out the Penguins with 23 stops for the first blanking in Thunderbirds history in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 21 in a 1-0 game. Ryan Horvatprovided the only necessary offense with a first-period goal on that Friday night in October.
Just eight nights later, the Thunderbirds backed up their 1-0 performance with another squeaker at the MassMutual Center on Oct. 29. Paul Thompson's power play goal tied up the game, 1-1, leading to the second overtime in as many weeks in Springfield. After the Penguins' Kevin Porter missed the net on an odd-man rush, Chase Balisy scooped up the puck on a breakaway and slid a backhander under the legs of Tristan Jarry to seal a 2-1 victory, the second Thunderbirds win over the Eastern Conference's top team.
Like the Thunderbirds, the Penguins have played strong hockey of late, winning each of their last four games while picking up points in eight of their last ten contests. Goaltenders Jarry and Casey DeSmith have the league's lowest goals-against average as a unit, as the Penguins are averaging just 2.04 goals against per game. DeSmith was in goal on Friday for a Penguins' 4-1 win over Rochester, stopping 28 pucks in improving his personal mark to 7-0-2. 
Offensively, the Penguins have been equally impressive, thanks in large part to their leading scorer, rookie Jake Guentzel, who has potted 11 goals and 14 assists in his first 21 AHL games this season. As a unit, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has tallied four or more goals an astonishing five times in their last seven games. They have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 20-6 during their current four-game winning streak.
Springfield also earned a Friday victory, a 3-1 triumph over the Binghamton Senators on their home ice at the MassMutual Center. Jared McCann and Greg McKegg each tallied in the second period, and McKegg finished the night with two goals and a helper following his empty-net clincher with just four seconds to go. Mike Sgarbossa also contributed two assists on an evening that saw the Thunderbirds tally three or more goals for the third time in the last four games.  
The Thunderbirds continue their fifth 3-in-3 weekend of the season with a road tilt on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET in Wilkes-Barre against the Penguins before a late afternoon matinee in Hershey on Sunday against the Bears at 5:15 p.m. ET.
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