WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Andrew Ebbett’s tie-breaking goal 20 seconds into the third period was just the beginning.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins used a series of quick strikes over the final 20 minutes Friday night to turn back the Portland Pirates, 5-1.
Ebbett connected on the power play for the first of his two goals in the opening 3:53 of the period. His initial goal was followed 50 seconds later by teammate Spencer Machacek’s score to put the Penguins in control, 3-1.
The quickest strike of them all came when Tom Kostopoulos scored just two seconds into a power play, giving the Penguins four goals in a span of 8:27 and more than enough offense on a night when the Pirates managed just 13 shots on goal.
“Before you know it, you look around and it’s 5-1,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said.
“We knew we had to kill the penalty at the start and we didn’t get it done. Then we just lost our focus for the next three or four shifts and the game’s over.”
Kostopoulos closed the scoring off a faceoff in the right circle. A veteran of 630 National Hockey League games, he scored his team-high 17th goal.
“We should have a couple people there,” Edwards said. “We weren’t near hungry enough.”
Special teams carried the Pirates to an impressive win Wednesday night in Binghamton and were a big part of them getting into the third period tied Friday.
The Pirates created chances while killing off penalties and turned one of them into the tying goal.
Jordan Martinook scored a short-handed goal, giving Portland seven on the season, tied for second-best in the AHL.
Brett Hextall came up with the puck and had it on the right side in the neutral zone before hitting Martinook in the middle, just as Martinook reached the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blue line. Martinook broke in on goalie Eric Hartzell at 14:48 of the second period, forcing a 1-1 tie.
The Pirates had killed off 11 straight penalties over three games before Ebbett broke the tie by deflecting Nick Drazenovic’s wrist shot from the point.
“We just weren’t ready to start the third period,” Edwards said. “We took too many penalties tonight and they outcompeted us in most areas.”
Dominik Uher’s pass from behind the net set up Machacek’s goal from in front at 1:10.
“It was a tight game up to that point,” Penguins Coach John Hynes said. “We were fortunate to get the (power-play) goal right off the bat, which helped, then we came right back and got the second one.”
Ebbett nailed a one-timer from the center point off a Kostopoulos pass at 3:53.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored the only goal of the first period when Uher fired a pass from the right circle to Carter Rowney a few feet from the left post.
The Pirates are in Hershey on Saturday in their last game before the AHL All-Star Classic.