WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Jeff Taffe broke a scoreless battle, Ryan Potulny and Peter LeBlanc added goals, and Dane Byers and Michael Latta set up two goals – all in the third period – helping David Leggio’s 26 saves stand up in the Hershey Bears’ 3-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday evening at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Neither team was able to find the back of the opponent’s net in the opening period. The two teams traded power plays, but the penalty killing of both teams held serve.
It was the same story after two, although the Penguins had the best scoring chance inside the final minute of play. On the hosts’ third man advantage of the game, a point shot found its way through traffic and off of the goal post to the left of Leggio.
The Bears finally broke the deadlock at 9:05 of the third period. Dustin Gazley fed Casey Wellman along the left boards, who in turn fired a shot into traffic. Taffe got a stick on the shot and tipped it down between the pads of Penguins netminder Jeff Deslauriers for his 14th goal of the season.
Hershey scored the insurance marker at 12:52 on a pretty passing play. Latta won a puck battle in the right corner, walked up the boards and slipped a short pass to Byers. The Bears captain then backhanded a hard feed to the backdoor where Potulny slammed it home for his second goal in as many nights.
The Bears had a chance to expand their lead with their third power play of the night. But instead, Brian Gibbons stripped the puck away from a Bears defenseman, charged in alone and slipped a backhander through Leggio’s pads at 15:57.
The visitors shook that off and responded less than a minute later, on a similar play that led to Potulny’s goal. Byers and Latta worked the puck into the right circle, and it would be Latta faking a Penguins defenseman down and feeding a cutting LeBlanc for a tap-in at 16:46.
Leggio improved to 15-13-2 on the season, while Deslauriers made 19 saves and fell to 17-13-2.
The win – Hershey’s fifth consecutive overall – moves the Bears to within two points of the East Division lead with a record of 29-16-3-3.
The Bears return home to host the Syracuse Crunch next Saturday, February 22 at 7:00 PM. Tickets for this and all remaining home games are available by calling (717) 508-BEAR, by stopping into the GIANT Center box office or by visiting TicketMaster.com.
NOTES: The Bears injury scratches were RW Stanislav Galiev, D Tomas Kundratek and RW Garrett Mitchell…The healthy scratches were D Chay Genoway, LW John Mitchell, D Steve Oleksy, LW Nathan Walker, D Patrick Wellar and LW Derek Whitmore…Hershey finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill…Hershey won its first game in five tries this season at Mohegan Sun Arena (1-3-1-0), and has won five straight against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton…LW Dane Byers extended his point streak to five games (3-4-7)…C Michael Latta extended his point streak to four games (1-4-5)…C Jeff Taffe tied RW Brandon Segal for the Bears’ goal-scoring lead…Hershey improved to 5-0-0-1 in its last six Sunday games.