© — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
The St. John’s IceCaps’ J.C. Lipon (far left) battles for a loose puck with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ Josh Archibald (42) and Jayson Megna (19) in front of netminder Michael Hutchinson as the IceCaps’ Ben Chiarot (right) and Adam Lowry (47) look to get involved during Game 2 of the teams’ American Hockey League Eastern Conference final series Sunday at Mile One Centre. St. John’s won 2-1 to send the series to Wilkes-Barre tied at a game apiece.
St. John’s netminder makes 34 saves in 2-1 win over Wilkes-Barre in Game 2
IceCaps goaltender Michael Hutchinson shook off a rare shaky start in Game 1 of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final to stop 34 of 35 shots in the second game Sunday night as St. John’s edged the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 to tie their Calder Cup playoff series at a game apiece.
The third-round post-season series now moves to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Games 3, 4 and 5 Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights.
If the sixth and seventh games are required, they will be played Tuesday, June 3 and Wednesday, June 4 in St. John’s.
Hutchinson came up big for the IceCaps at Mile One Centre last night, just as he’s done through the 2014 AHL post season. He had his moments, however, in the opening game of the East final Saturday night, a 3-2 Wilkes-Barre win, allowing the game-winner 2:32 into the second period on a weak shot from Conor Sheary from the faceoff circle.
“I wasn’t too happy with my game Saturday,” said the Barrie, Ont. native. “That goal is a shot I make the save on 99 per cent of the time. It ended up being a big part of the game and at this point of the season, those aren’t goals you want to let in.
“So I wanted to play better for the team, and give them a chance to win.”
That he did.
The only blemish on the 24-year-old’s game Sunday was the Penguins’ lone goal by Anton Zlobin with 1:04 left in regulation time.
That came on a six-on-four man advantage as Josh Morrissey was off for kneeing, with Wilkes-Barre goalie Peter Mannino pulled for the extra attacker.
It set off a furious, high drama finish.
“All season long,” said St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge, “he’s given us exactly what we need, and that’s to keep the puck out of our net.”
Kyle MacKinnon, in the first period, and Carl Klingberg, with the game-winner in the second, scored for the IceCaps.
With MacKinnon scoring, it marked the 10th time in 12 playoff games the IceCaps have scored first. He took a nice pass from Blair Riley, who fed the puck through a maze of players, and beat Mannino for his second goal of the post season.
“I think our focus was definitely to get the first goal in the first period, to get the momentum on our side and get the crowd behind us,” said MacKinnon, a native Californian. “We were able to do that.”
Klingberg got the game-winner 6:24 into the second, redirecting a Will O’Neill shot from the point.
It was a different IceCaps team that one which showed up Saturday, after a seven-day break following a second-round win over the Norfolk Admirals.
“We had a playoff edge back in our game,” said McCambridge. “We were harder on pucks, and we dug down in hard areas where we needed to play.
“We felt we need to play a price. Wilkes-Barre did that at a higher level than we did, so I was pleased that we found that.
“The whole lineup, from top to bottom, was pushing in the right direction.”
NOTES: Jerome Samson, a 27-goal scorer in the regular season, was a healthy scratch Sunday. That meant Josh Lunden drew into the lineup. Jordan Hill also came in for Kris Fredheim … The Penguins were missing their top scorer in Chuck Kobasew, who coach John Hynes has listed as day-to-day … The Molson Canadian three stars were 1. Michael Hutchinson 2. Carl Klingberg 3. Kyle MacKinnon …