St. John's wins 2-1 at Mile One; AHL conference final tied at a game apiece as series prepares to switch to Pennsylvania
Michael Hutchinson made 34 saves, while Kyle MacKinnon and Carl Klingberg scored the goals as the St. John’s IceCaps held on for a 2-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight to even their American Hockey League Eastern Conference final at a game apiece.
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At Mile One Centre, the IceCaps led 2-0 late in the contest, but things got a little dicey for the home side after the Penguins’ Anton Zlobin scored with 1:04 remaining and the teams playing four-on-four, plus Wilkes-Barre goalie Peter Mannino on the bench for an extra attacker.
A dozen seconds later, the visitors were on a power play, but despite that advantage, and the extra attacker still in place, the Pens couldn’t find a way to get a tying goal against Hutchinson.
It was the second one-goal decision in as many nights; the Penguins won 3-2 in the opening game of the Calder Cup matchup 24 hours earlier at Mile One.
The best-of-seven series now shifts to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for Games 3, 4 and 5t (the latter if necessary) on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
MacKinnon scored in the first period for the IceCaps, giving him points in four straight playoff games. He got his second goal of the post-season after being sprung free on a nice pass from lineman Blair Riley. Patrice Cormier also picked up an assist.
The game-winner came from Klingberg on a deflection of a Will O’Neill shot from the blueline at 6:24 of the middle frame. O’Neill picked up his eighth assist of the post-season on the tally, while Eric O’Dell also earning a helper, his first to go with seven playoff goals this spring.
Mannino made 27 saves in the Penguins’ goal as the busiest netminders in these AHL playoffs faced each other; Mannino has played a league-topping 836 minutes through two-plus rounds, while Hutchinson has made 348 saves, most among his contemporaries.
Some of Hutchinson’s biggest came in Game 2, including a breakaway stop on Harry Zolnierczyk in the second period and a series of saves late in the third with the visitors pressing. Hutchinson who owns an 8-4 record, 1.81 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in the playoffs, also got help from the iron surrounding him, as Wilkes-Barre had at least three shots — perthaps more — go off posts or crossbars.
The Molson Canadian three stars were all IceCaps: 1. Michael Hutchinson; 2. Carl Klingberg; 3. Kyle MacKinnon …St. John's broadcaster Brian Rogers’ choice as the hardest-working IceCap was centre Patrice Cormier … Wilkes-Barre was 0-6 on the power-play, while the IceCaps went 0-3, Neither team has scored in its eight power-play chances through the first two games… Pens' rookie Conor Sheary had an assist on Zlobin's goal, extending his scoring streak to eight games ... There were some notable lineup changes for both sides in Game 2. Winger Jerome Samson, the IceCaps’ second-leading goal scorer (27G) in the regular season, did not play, and was replaced by forward Josh Lunden. There was no official word pre-game on the reason for the change, although Samson did not take part in the pre-game warmup skate, often an indication an injury is involved. Another switch saw defenceman Jordan Hill draw into the lineup in place of Kris Fredheim. Meanwhile, the Penguins were missing veteran forward Chuck Kobasew. Wilkes-Barre broadcaster Mike O’Brien had tweeted that Kobasew, who leads the AHL Pens in playoff scoring with 12 points in 12 games, has a lower body injury. After the game , Wilkes-Barre coach John Hynes said Kobasew was listed as day-to-day. Rookie Josh Archibald took Kobasew’s place … With Kobasew out, the Penguins were missing three official AHL veterans to injuries, Nick Drazenovic and Andrew Ebbett being the others ... St. John's has scored the first goal in 10 of its 12 games in these playoffs, with an 8-2 record when doing so ... The IceCaps and Penguins will travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the same flight out of St. John's International Airport this morning ... The AHL Western Conference final between the Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies resumes tonight in Cedar Park, Tex., with the Marlies up 1-0 ... The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings won the 2014 Memorial Cup in London, Ont., tonight, defeating the OHL champion Guelph Storm 6-3. Phoenix Coyotes prospect Henrik Samuelsson, brother of Wilkes-Barre defenceman Philip Samuelsson, had two goals and three assists for the Oil Kings … Mount Pearl native Brian Cheeseman is the athletic therapist for the Oil Kings … Edmonton forward Edgars Kulda, younger brother of former IceCaps defenceman Arturs Kulda, was named the Memorial Cup MVP ... No immediate word on whether Guelph forward Scott Kosmachuk, a Winnipeg Jets’ third-round pick from 2012, will be assigned to the IceCaps now that the Memorial Cup has concluded. Kosmachuk will turn pro next season, likely with St. John’s …