Despite the St. John’s IceCaps holding a 3-1 lead at one point in the series, the best-of-seven American Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will go to a seventh game.
The Penguins scored a pair of unanswered third-period goals Friday night at Mile One Centre to register a 4-2 win over the IceCaps, their second straight win over St. John’s after taking a 3-2 win in double overtime last Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
The win ties the series 3-3 with the rubber match set for 7:30 tonight at Mile One (930, Rogers TV).
Zach Sill, with the game-winner, and Paul Thompson, with an insurance marker, scored for the Penguins in the third. Jason Williams and Cal O’Reilly had the other Wilkes-Barre goals.
Patrice Cormier and Ray Sawada replied for the IceCaps.
Despite being met by raucous home support, mostly adorned in white, it was the Penguins who grabbed control of the game, outshooting and outplaying their hosts early in the opening 20 minutes..
Penalty hurt Caps
St. John’s was nabbed for three of the four first-period penalties and it was Ben Maxwell’s hooking minor on which Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cashed in, when Williams’ shot deflected off Spencer Machacek’s stick past a surprised Pasquale.
St. John’s came to life after the Williams goal, but couldn’t solve Thiessen.
Interesting to note the IceCaps had a win, a loss and two overtime losses when trailing by a goal in the post-season.
Cormier finally got the IceCaps on the scoreboard, 4:31 into the second period when he redirected Paul Postma’s rocket shot from the blueline while St. John’s enjoyed the man advantage.
It stood a tie game for just under seven minutes when big Sawada barged through the Penguins’ crease and whacked a loose puck past Thiessen for his second of the post season.
Pasquale came up big late in the second period, making a number of saves as his teammates failed to clear the zone.
And then St. John’s ran into penalty trouble with minors to Cormier, Brett Festerling and Aaron Gagnon, all within a two-minute span.
Enjoying the five-on-three advantage, veteran O’Reilly cashed in at 19:52 from the side of the net after Pasquale made the initial save.
The IceCaps managed to kill off the remaining penalties to open the third period, but couldn’t stop Sill just over five minutes in when he slammed home a rebound for third goal after Geoff Walker had taken a shot from a sharp angle.
Thompson put the nail in the coffin at the 16:30 mark, gobbling up a Derek Meech turnover, racing the length of the ice and beating Pasquale.
The final shots on goal were 31-31.