WILKES-BARRE TWP. – After scoring just one goal in their last two games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Trevor Smith said the offensive chances have been there but the team has to do a better job of finishing.
Smith made the statement after Friday's 3-1 loss to Hershey.
On Saturday, he led by example, scoring twice in the first period as the Penguins edged out the Portland Pirates 4-3 in a shootout with goals from Benn Ferriero and Eric Tangradi.
The Penguins have won six of their last eight contests and improve to 6-6 on the season. Their last two wins have both come in the shootout.
After scoring one goal in the last two games and only three in the first period all season, the Penguins offense came out firing in the opening frame.
Riley Holzapfel roofed a shot seconds after a power play expired for a 1-0 lead and his second goal in two games.
Smith continued the offensive onslaught, tipping in a Beau Bennett pass less than two minutes later, and scoring again late in the period when he forced a turnover along the boards and blazed a wrister past Portland goaltender Mark Visentin to make it 3-0. The goal was Smith's third of the season.
The pair of goals were the first for Smith since he scored on opening night in Binghamton. Head coach John Hynes said it was nice to see the goal scorer heat up.
You could tell, even this morning before the game and around the locker room, he expects to score and wants to score, Hynes said. Hopefully this gets him going in the right direction.
Both teams combined for 31 shots and for the first time this season the Penguins had a lead at the end of the first period.
Portland climbed back into by scoring three unanswered goals. They registered a pair of goals in the second period, including one on the power play, to cut the Penguins lead to one.
Portland's Alexandre Bolduc made it 3-3 when he scored in the first four minutes of the third period to erase the Penguins lead.
Credit to Portland. They had a lot of push back and turned up the intensity level, Hynes said. We didn't match it right away.
After blanking on their first four power play chances on the night – extending their goal-less streak with the man advantage to 0-for-16 over three games, the Penguins gained a golden opportunity late in the third when Andy Miele elbowed Bobby Farnham along the boards, earning a minor.
The Penguins only mustered one shot on the opportunity and allowed the game to go to overtime on the penalty kill when Dylan Reese was called for slashing as regulation expired.
Hynes said the lack of power play production wasn't a major issue as long as the team is scoring at even strength.
It all balances itself out. If you don't score on even strength, it might cost you the game, he said. We found other ways to score tonight which takes the pressure off the power play.
Brad Thiessen – making just his third start, made three key saves to help kill off the power play and made eight stops overall for a scoreless overtime along with four more to blank Portland in the shootout. On the night, Thiessen stopped 36 of 39 shots.
Brad played very well tonight and came up numerous times with big saves, Hynes said. In special teams in the overtime he played excellent.
- D Joey Mormina, D Philip Samuelsson, C Zach Sill (upper body), C Jayson Megna (lower body), RW Tom Kuhnhackl and D Alex Grant were scratched for the Penguins.
First period: Scoring – 1. WBS, Riley Holzapfel 4 (Thompson, Morrow) 13:08. 2. WBS, Trevor Smith 2 (Bennett, Ferriero) 14:31. 3. Trevor Smith 3 unassisted 17:24. Penalties – POR, Rundblad (tripping) 11:05; POR, Brown (roughing) 16:55; WBS, Farnham (roughing) 16:55; POR, Lane (roughing) 19:06; WBS, Farnham (roughing) 19:06; POR, Bolduc (tripping) 19:33.
Second period: Scoring – 4. POR, Brandon Gormley 1 (Miele, Rundblad) power play 2:10. 5. POR, Chris Brown 4 (Conner, Gormley) 12:30. Penalties – WBS, Strait (roughing) 1:49; POR, Goncharov (roughing) 6:23; WBS, Ferriero (interference) 6:51; POR, Klinkhammer (roughing) 14:47; WBS, Farnham (roughing) 14:47. Third period: coring – 6. POR, Alexandre Bolduc 7 (Brown, Arnold) 3:39. Penalties – POR, Bolduc (roughing) 8:57; POR, Miele (elbowing) 12:10; WBS, Peters (roughing) 14:57; WBS, Reese (slashing) 20:00.
Overtime: Scoring – None. Penalties – None.
Shootout: WBS – Thompson - NG; Bennett – NG; Ferriero – G; Holzapfel – NG; Tangradi - G
POR – Miele – NG; Rundblad – NG; Bolduc – NG; Szwarz – NG
Shots on goal: Portland – 14-10-7-8-39; Penguins – 17-9-13-2-41
Power-play Opportunities: Portland – 1 of 4. Penguins – 0 of 5
Goaltenders: Portland – Mark Visentin 1-1-1 (38 saves – 41 shots); Penguins – Brad Thiessen 2-1-0 (36-39)