ALLENTOWN, Pa. – At the end of a game full of momentum swings, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton were on the losing side of a shootout against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 5-4, on Friday night at PPL Center.
Matt Brown’s shootout winner sunk Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (24-16-6-1) after the Penguins erased a two-goal deficit in the third period. Three points apiece from Vinnie Hinostroza (1G-2A) and Jonathan Gruden (3A) helped the Penguins collect a point in the standings.
The offense started bursting at the seams in the final three minutes of the first period. After Wade Allison put Lehigh Valley on the board while the teams were skating at four-on-four, Hinostroza’s slick backhand finish on the power play tied things up 33 seconds later. Fifty seconds after that, Peter Abbandonato deflected in a shot from the point, giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-1 lead.
The Phantoms came roaring in to start the second, scoring three goals in the first six minutes. Rhett Gardner, Brendan Furry, and Jon-Randall Avon lit the lamp for Lehigh Valley, flipping the game to a 4-2 score in its favor.
Similar to the Phantoms’ offensive outburst in the second, the Penguins turned the tide in the third period. First, Alex Nylander rifled in a wrist shot one second after the expiration of a power play. Then, Gruden picked up his third assist of the game by setting up Ty Smith for a slap shot from the high slot.
Following a back-and-forth overtime, the Penguins played in their first shootout of the season. Lukas Svejkovsky converted on his bid in the second round to extend the skills showcase, but Brown buried the winner in round four.
Joel Blomqvist made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, then turned aside two of four shootout attempts. Felix Sandström conjured 19 saves in 65 minutes of work, then denied three more in the shootout to help secure Lehigh Valley the extra point.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is on Wednesday, Feb. 14 against the Toronto Marlies. Puck drop is slated for 11:00 a.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum.
The Penguins’ next home game isn’t until Saturday, Feb. 17, when they adopt the moniker of the Pittston Tomatoes for one night only in the latest installment of the Penguins’ community series presented by Visit Luzerne County. The Tomatoes will take on the Laval Rocket with a 6:05 p.m. puck drop at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
Season-ticket packages for the Penguins’ 25th season of hockey are on sale now. Full-Season, 22-game, 12-game, Flexbook and Premium Seating plans are available by reaching out to the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367. Individual-game tickets are also available by visiting Ticketmaster.com, the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office or calling the Penguins’ front office at (570) 208-7367.
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