On a night where the defense was paper thin, thanks to a late Robert Bortuzzo call-up to Pittsburgh, the defense came ready to play. They held the Hershey Bears to 19 shots and shut them out 4-0 tonight. Guys like Simon Despres, Philip Samuelsson and Carl Sneep stepped up big defensively. One defenseman even provided some offense.
The Penguins got things started in the first period with a whacky goal. Alex Grant made a nice play to get the puck to Colin McDonald but the play was broken up, or so it appeared to fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The puck actually bounced of Hershey's Patrick McNeill and into the back of the net. 1-0 Penguins just 2:47 into the game, just the start they were looking for.
Late in the first period the Penguins got another goal. Brian Gibbons fed Eric Tangradi a great cross-ice pass and nearly connected for a goal, but a fore-checking Joey Mormina was able to bring the puck out from behind the net and stuff one past ex-Penguin Dany Sabourin to make it 2-0.
Jason Williams continues to impress and he kept things going in the opening minute of the middle frame. McDonald and Bryan Lerg teamed up on the assists but the highlight reel goal was all Williams' doing.
An absolute beauty on a mini breakaway, Williams went forehand to backhand and roofed a puck over a sprawling Sabourin. That would be the last shot Sabourin would face as Braden Holtby would enter the game after Sabourin allowed three goals on 13 shots.
That would be all the scoring the Penguins would need, until the Bears pulled Braden Holtby for the extra attacker late in the third period while on a power play. Brad Thiessen shuffled one to Mormina who cashed in on the empty net, flinging the puck nearly 200 feet into the open cage. That was Mormina's 2nd goal of the game, matching his season total of two goals in 50 games all of last season.
Brad Thiessen got the 19 save shutout, and the Penguins finally one their first home game of the season. The Penguins are now winners of five straight games and look to make it six in a row tomorrow night in Binghamton when they take on the Senators.
Highland Park Hockey will be making the trip to New York and will have exclusive in-game coverage of tomorrow night's game. Tomorrow's game preview will be up early in the afternoon. Stay tuned.