Penguins Edge ’Cuse In Overtime Thriller

March 10, 2019

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Sam Miletic was the hero the Penguins needed, and the one they deserved after erasing an early two-goal deficit. In front of a big crowd for Super Hero Night, Miletic scored off a rebound from a Kevin Czuczman shot in overtime, as the Penguins posted a much-needed 4-3 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Penguins (28-23-6-3) were down one on separate occasions in the final period, but got the equalizer it needed from Jimmy Hayes on a power play with just over five minutes left. “Hopefully, this is a big momentum game,” Miletic said. “Just kind of proving what we can do. They’re obviously first in their division, so they have a good team. They have a lot of guys with a lot of points there. So, really big character win.” The victory was important for the Penguins to keep pace in the Atlantic Division standings, as Providence beat Hershey in overtime. However, the game didn’t look as promising to start for the Penguins. The Crunch played a nearly perfect first period, displaying precision passing under and around the Penguins net and relentless stick checking on defense. Ross Colton was the first to capitalize when he crept open in the slot and roofed a feed from Andy Andreoff above Tristan Jarry’s glove shoulder at 3:27. Later on a power play, former Penguins defenseman Cameron Gaunce ripped a spinning puck at the point past the goaltender. Martin Ouellette barely had to break a sweat in the other crease, as the Penguins were outshot, 17-5. Syracuse controlled parts of the second, but failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play. Jarry made big saves, in order, on Cory Conacher, Carter Verhaeghe and Alex Barre-Boulet. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton began to get shot blocks, including two by Joseph Cramarossa on one kill, and it also adjusted to better defend the net front. “Both our wingers had to play lower,” Donatelli said. “They thought they were low enough, and they had to come lower because (the Crunch) like those quick plays off the goal line and finding those guys in the quiet areas in the slot. We showed them on the film, and we showed it again and drew it up. So, I thought we did a much better job second half of the game.” The Penguins got a push midway through the period, and Linus Olund scored on a goal very similar to Colton’s at 11:40 to shrink the deficit. With the help of a couple power plays, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton outshot Syracuse, 13-12, in the frame. The game turned into a penalty parade in the third, and Joseph Blandisi finally broke through on a man-advantage when he beat a down-and-out Ouellette to his right. After Colton broke free on a rush five minutes later and restored Syracuse’s lead with his second, Hayes stayed hot with his power-play tally at 14:36 to tie the game at 3. In the overtime, Miletic was right on the doorstep to pounce on a loose puck. Ouellette tried to slide over, but didn’t make it in time and the goal set off a wild celebration. Jarry made 34 saves, a few of them spectacular, to get his 18th win in net. “There’s only 16 games left here so, obviously, to get points — especially here at home — (is important),” Donatelli said. “I just thought the guys played tremendously well after the half-minute mark of the second period. Guys really picked it up from that point.” Contact the writer: tpiccotti@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2089; @CVPiccotti on Twitter