Penguins rally for 11th straight win

( — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins kept their franchise-best winning streak alive using near-improbable means on Sunday evening, coming back from a 5-1 deficit to win 7-6 in overtime against the Hartford Wolf Pack at XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

Trailing by four after the first period, the Penguins scored early in the second period and later unleashed four more goals in less than seven minutes to stun the Wolf Pack and claim a 6-5 lead going into the third.

It would have been easy for the Penguins to fold after allowing five goals in the first period and playing with tired legs in the third game of a three-in-three weekend, but according to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Mike Sullivan, the resolve shown by his team was nothing out of the ordinary.

“That’s a character win for our team, and it’s a testament to the character and leadership in our room,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the start we wanted, but we responded the right way. I’ve had a ton of respect for our team all year how we keep that laser focus no matter what.

“A win like this, it creates a belief in a group that you’re never out of it no matter the circumstances."

The Penguins began their fierce comeback when Kael Mouillierat rang a shot off the post and into the net at the expiration of a Pens power play at 1:58 of the second period to cut Hartford’s lead to 5-2.

Derrick Pouliot eventually capitalized on a man advantage at 11:10 of the second to make it 5-3.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued blazing down the comeback trail with a shorthanded goal by Kevin Porter to make it 5-4 at 13:34 of the second. Porter’s goal was his first as a Penguin.

Conor Sheary earned his third assist of the night and helped tie the game 5-5 when he fed Scott Wilson for a wrap around tally to equalize the score at 15:03 of the second.

Unsatisfied with simply tying the score, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took the 6-5 lead thanks to Porter’s second goal of the game with 1:56 to go in the second frame.

From Pouliot’s power play marker to Porter’s go-ahead goal, it took 6:56 of game time to score four times and take the lead.

The third period saw both teams exchange chances, but Hartford evened the score with 1:19 remaining in regulation thanks to two former Penguins, Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna, connecting to make it 6-6.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took a power play into the OT period, and Wilson scored his second of the game 34 seconds into the extra frame, ended the game, and gave his Penguins their 11th consecutive victory.

Sheary tied a career-high with four points in the game, all of which were assists.

Marek Hrivík scored 1:39 into the game after taking a feed from Brady Skjei to put the Wolf Pack up 1-0 early.

Nick Tarnasky scored his second goal in as many games against the Penguins just 1:05 after Hrivík’s goal to make it 2-0.

Wolf Pack captain Ryan Bourque scored twice at 9:51 and 15:02 to make it 3-0 and 4-1 in favor of Hartford.

Bourque’s goals sandwiched a Tom Kostopoulos marker, that appeared to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton life at 10:45 and made the score 3-1 in favor of Hartford.

Chad Nehring scored with 28 seconds left in the first for his third point of the period and gave the Wolf Pack their shockingly unsafe 5-1 advantage.

Matt Murray was in net for all five of Hartford’s first period goals, and was replaced by Tristan Jarry at the start of the second frame. Murray made nine saves on 14 shots. Jarry, running on less than 24 hours rest following his win against Rochester on Saturday night, made 15 saves in relief of Murray.

Hartford substituted Magnus Hellberg in for starter Mackenzie Skapski following the second period, after Skapski surrendered six goals on 28 shots. Hellberg made eight saves and only allowed one goal, but was still the goaltender of record and was awarded the loss after Wilson beat him through the five-hole on a rebound in overtime.