WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The losses to the lineup continued to mount for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wednesday night, but the team also continued to avoid losses in the standings.
Despite suspending leading scorer Dustin Jeffrey before the game and losing another forward early in the game, the Penguins defeated the visiting Norfolk Admirals, 3-1, Wednesday to start a stretch of four games in five days.
The Penguins met for an early Thanksgiving dinner then hit the road for Rochester, N.Y. where they will play tonight against the Americans, who have the American Hockey League’s best record at 15-2-0-1.
“They spent some money this summer and have a lot of high-end players,” Penguins coach Todd Reirden said of the Americans. “They’re off to a nice start.”
One of the players the Penguins will face is Jeff Taffe, the Penguins’ second-leading scorer last year.
Following the trip to Rochester, the Penguins return to Pennsylvania for Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against the Syracuse Crunch and Sunday’s 5 p.m. game in Hershey against the East Division-leading Bears.
The Penguins (10-6-1-1) moved into second in the East with Wednesday night’s win.
Tim Wallace scored two goals while combining with linemates Wyatt Smith and Luca Caputi to produce all the scoring.
Smith had a goal and two assists while Caputi had two assists.
Reirden said it was important that the team start the demanding stretch of schedule the right way. Wallace provided that start with goals on consecutive shifts 1:47 apart in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
“We have eight first-year guys in our lineup and that helped us get through the first of four in five nights,” he said. “We played with the lead, stayed in the offensive zone and dictated the pace of play.”
John Curry only needed to make 20 saves for the win.
The Penguins will continue to need new faces.
Jeffrey will return Saturday after completing a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules.
Forward Joe Vitale left Wednesday’s game with a shoulder injury, the latest in a string of physical problems that have led to the new names in the lineup.
Reirden said Jeffrey faces other punishment in addition to the suspension.
“We hold players to the highest standards,” the coach said. “We don’t condone it when any issues occur off the ice.”
Jeffrey ranks second in the AHL in assists with 18.
He also has a goal for a team-high 19 points.
WBS Penguins at Rochester Americans
7 p.m., today