Corey Locke extended his AHL scoring lead with four points, picking up a goal and two assists during Hartford’s four-goal first period and adding a big insurance marker in the third as the Wolf Pack held on for a 5-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL’s only action on Thursday night.
Locke’s 10th multiple-point effort of the season gives him 29 points in 19 games, seven points more than anyone else in the league.
Hartford’s power play clicked early, as Dale Weise tapped home a cross-crease pass from Locke at 8:59 of the first period during a 5-on-3 advantage, and Paul Crowder chipped a shot past Penguins goaltender John Curry 30 seconds later to give the Wolf Pack a 2-0 lead.
Wilkes-Barre got on the board at the 12:53 mark when Tim Wallace picked up his fourth goal of the season, but Locke banged home a loose puck at the side of the net with 4:26 left in the opening period to make it 3-1. A Penguins turnover then led to a 3-on-1 down low and Jordan Owens fed Dane Byers, who gave Hartford a three-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
The Penguins killed off 73 seconds’ worth of a two-man Hartford power play to open the second period, and Robert Bortuzzo’s first professional goal at 2:55 cut the deficit to 4-2.
Midway through the third, Wade Brookbank redirected home pass from Dustin Jeffrey to pull the Penguins to within a goal. But Locke gave Hartford some more breathing room with a power-play goal at 11:35.
Matt Zaba picked up his first AHL victory of the season, making 21 saves for the Wolf Pack, who improved to 7-1-0-1 at home.