WORCESTER, Mass. — After watching the Worcester power-play unit rip them for four goals Wednesday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins decided to return the favor Friday.
The Penguins scored two goals with the man-advantage and held the Sharks scoreless on five of their own power plays to come away with a 5-3 win before 5,865 at the DCU Center.
Five different players scored for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while Brad Thiessen made 35 saves, including several big stops in the closing seconds with the Penguins shorthanded.
“It’s frustrating to get picked apart like we have lately, I think we lost a little bit of confidence,” defenseman Dylan Reese said of the Penguins penalty-kill unit, which entered the night third in the American Hockey League despite its recent struggles. “We were kind of sitting back more than we needed to.”
Riley Holzapfel’s goal at 16:35 in the second period gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 4-1 lead, but Worcester didn’t go away easily in the third. James Livingston’s snipe from along the right boards made it 4-2 at 2:33, and Jon Matsumoto’s goal cut the lead to 4-3 at 15:05.
That set up a frantic closing minute, as a roughing call against Warren Peters at 17:45 and a slashing call against Trevor Smith at 19:10 left the Penguins shorthanded.
Worcester pulled goalie Harri Sateri, giving the Sharks a six-on-three advantage. But Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held, as Thiessen made several big saves and caught a break when Yanni Gourde’s shot from the left wing went high and wide over an exposed net.
“Brad did a great job,” Penguins coach John Hynes said. “He made some big saves there. We did a nice job of clearing out rebounds and blocking shots.”
Peters’ empty-net goal sealed the win at 19:52.
“Six-on-three is just a battle, that’s the bottom line,” Reese said. “It’s pretty much a free-for- all like that. You just try and stay tight and protect the house.”
A wild opening to the second period saw the teams combine for three goals in 37 seconds.
With Worcester’s Adam Comrie off for interference, Kolarik finished off a two-on-one pass from Holzapfel at 3:07 to make it 2-0 Penguins. Paul Thompson redirected Joey Mormina’s blast down the slot past Sharks’ Sateri at 3:30, but Gourde took a pass from Travis Oleksuk behind the net and beat Thiessen to make it 3-1 at 3:44.
Reese’s five-on-three power play-goal gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 14:48 in the first. The defenseman snapped a shot that went over Sateri’s glove and into the back of the net.
“I took a look and noticed he was cheating a little bit to the cross-ice pass,” Reese said. “I think it surprised him a little bit.
The Sharks (28-24-1-6) had a chance for shorthanded goal earlier in the power play when Bracken Kearns stole the puck near the point and skated in alone on Thiessen. But the Penguins goalie turned the shot away on the left post.
“That was a huge save,” Hynes said. “(Wednesday) we got behind early and that kind of took the wind out of our sails. It gave us a little bit of life because were able to get the lead, score on the power play and that kind of got us going in the right direction.”
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton travels to Portland to face the Pirates at 7 p.m. today.
Penguins 1 3 1 — 5
Worcester 0 1 2 — 3
First period: 1. Penguins, Reese 6 (Dumoulin, Smith), 14:48 (PP). Penalties: Petrecki (WOR) high-sticking, 11:29; Gourde (WOR) delay of game, 13:39.
Second period: 2. Penguins, Kolarik 23 (Holzapfel, Smith), 3:07 (PP). 3. Penguins, Thompson 15 (Mormina, Peters), 3:30. 4. Worcester, Gourde 8 (Oleksuk, Livingston), 3:44. 5. Penguins, Holzapfel 17 (Kolarik, Grant), 16:35. Penalties: Comrie (WOR) interference, 1:26; Collins (WBS) roughing, 4:04; Mormina (WBS) holding, 10:44; Tennyson (WOR) interference, 20:00.
Third period: 6. Worcester, Livingston 6 (Oleksuk, Doherty), 2:33. 7. Worcester, Matsumoto 13 (Kearns), 15:05. 8. Penguins, Peters 11 19:52 (EN). Penalties: Tarasov (WOR) high-sticking, 0:19; Doherty (WOR) slashing, 10:18; Peters (WBS) roughing, 17:45; Smith (WBS) slashing, 19:10; Tarasov (WOR) high-sticking, 19:49.
Shots on goal: Penguins 11-10-8-29; Worcester 12-10-15-37
Power-play opportunities: Penguins 2-6; Worcester 0-5
Goalies: Penguins, Thiessen 14-10-1 (37 shots-34 saves); Worcester, Sateri 13-13-3 (28 shots-24 saves)
Referees: Trent Knorr, Ryan Fraser.
Linesmen: Todd Whittemore, Kevin Redding.