Penguins Punch Playoff Ticket with 4-3 Win at Hershey
HERSHEY, Pa. - The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will find themselves in familiar territory this spring.
In a down-to-the-wire 4-3 win against the Hershey Bears at Giant Center on Saturday night, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton secured its 14th consecutive appearance to the Calder Cup Playoffs.
"We wanted those two points," said Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli. "This is a tough Hershey team, especially at home. I thought our guys really dug in deep and had a great game."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened things up by scoring 9:01 into the game after Tom Kostopoulos fed Dominik Simon for the Czech rookie's 23rd goal of the season.
A perfectly executed give-and-go play between Kostopoulos and Carter Rowney gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 11:40 of the second period. Both Kostopoulos and Jake Guentzel earned their second assists of the game on Rowney's tally.
The Bears cut the Penguins' lead in half 28 second later when Liam O'Brien capitalized on a miscue behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a sharp angle goal.
Two minutes and 21 seconds before the close of the first period, Simon scored again, making it 3-1 in favor of the Penguins with his team-leading 24th tuck of the year.
The Penguins jumped out to a 4-1 lead 3:23 into the second period, when Reid McNeill's point shot bounced off of a fallen Jarrett Burton's skate and past Hershey goalie Dan Ellis. After Burton's goal, Ellis was replaced in net by Justin Peters.
Carter Camper redirected in a shot, making it 4-2 at 7:15 of the middle frame.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held Hershey at bay on the power play until Chris Bourque slapped one in on the Bears' fifth man advantage of the game, bringing the Bears within one goal of the Penguins.
Hershey later went on a four minute power play after a high-sticking double minor was assessed to Simon, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton put forth a potent penalty killing display, preventing the tying goal en route to victory.
"That was a gut check for the guys," Donatelli said of the Penguins lengthy third period penalty kill. "That's a really good power play there for Hershey. They did a great job. The P.K. was huge for us tonight."
The Penguins finished the night six-for-seven on the penalty kill, but were unsuccessful on their three power plays.
Brian Foster got the win in net for the Penguins, making 21 saves on 24 shots.
With their spot in the postseason secure, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's work isn't done yet. Donatelli and the Penguins now turn their attention to catching the Bears for first place in the Atlantic Division.
"We want to come in first," said Donatelli. "We want home ice. We've got another big game here tomorrow against Hershey back at home. If we can get that one, we're one point out. It's funny how that works."
Puck drop between the Penguins and Bears is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...
American Hockey League Stories from April 9, 2016
- Brodzinski and Newbury Lead Reign over Condors - Ontario Reign
- Griffins Fall 4-3 to Chicago Wolves - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Playoff Bound! Texas Comes Back for 8-5 Win to Clinch Playoff Berth - Texas Stars
- Monsters extend point streak to seven games with comeback win in Rochester - Cleveland Monsters
- Close-Call Comeback Effort Falls Just Short - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Wolves Mount Comeback Win over Griffins - Chicago Wolves
- Monsters Sneak by Amerks in Overtime - Rochester Americans
- Bears Mount Comeback But Penguins Hang On - Hershey Bears
- Bridgeport closer to clinching playoff spot - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Stars Score Six Unanswered in 8-5 Barracuda Loss in Texas - San Jose Barracuda
- Rampage Stuns Wild for 4-3 OT Win - Iowa Wild
- Crunch Top Marlies, 3-2, in Shootout - Syracuse Crunch
- Wolf Pack Close Home Schedule with 6-2 Win over Springfield - Hartford Wolf Pack
- Penguins Punch Playoff Ticket with 4-3 Win at Hershey - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Checkers Fall to Admirals 6-3 in Heated Battle - Charlotte Checkers
- Special Teams Lift B-Sens Past Devils - Binghamton Senators
- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Clinches 14th-Straight Playoff Berth - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Toronto Marlies Post Game Notes - Toronto Marlies
- Falcons Fall to Wolf Pack - Springfield Falcons
- Providence Takes Down Pirates on the Road, 6-1 - Providence Bruins
- Admirals Dump Checkers 6-3 - Milwaukee Admirals
- Albany Devils Streak against Binghamton Senators Ends - Albany Devils
- Comets Get Exactly What They Need in Overtime Loss - Utica Comets
- Fucale, Ellis Lift IceCaps over Comets in OT - St. John's IceCaps
- Comets Clinch 2016 Calder Cup Playoff Spot - Utica Comets
- Manitoba Moose Post-Game Report - Manitoba vs. Rockford - April 9/16 - Manitoba Moose
- San Diego Gulls Announce Roster Moves - San Diego Gulls
- Garrett Thompson Reassigned to Fort Wayne - San Antonio Rampage
- Rangers Assign Marek Hrivik to Hartford - Hartford Wolf Pack
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms to Host 2017 AHL All-Star Classic - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Sabres Recall Goaltender Ullmark - Rochester Americans
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms to Host 2017 American Hockey League All-Star Classic - AHL
- Heat Open Covanta Easy Being Green Weekend at 7:30 Tonight vs. San Diego - Stockton Heat
- Condors Game Preview: the Hulk Is Here Tonight - Bakersfield Condors
- Ontario Reign Game Preview: Reign Return to the Road; Close Season Series with Condors Tonight - Ontario Reign
- Canes Sign Nicolas Roy to Entry-Level Contract - Charlotte Checkers
- Defenseman Troy Donnay Joins Wolf Pack - Hartford Wolf Pack
- McKenzie Reassigned to Texas Stars - Texas Stars
- Goaltender Martin Ouellette Returned to Reading - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Islanders Recall Kearns, Quine - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Joel Lowry Shines as Reign Power Past Condors, 4-1 - Ontario Reign
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Stories
- Penguins Sign Goaltender Shane Starrett
- Forrest Named Head Coach, Karmanos Named GM of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Mike Vellucci, Todd Reirden Hired as Assistant Coaches by Pittsburgh
- Penguins Sign Felix Robert and Luke Stevens
- Pittsburgh's Postseason Roster Features 19 Alumni of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton