Zach Sill scored the game-winner with 16 seconds remaining in the third period and the Wilkes-Barre Penguins stayed alive in the American Hockey League Calder Cup playoffs with a 4-2 win over the St. John’s IceCapsSaturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The IceCaps still lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 3-2 heading into Game 6 Tuesday night at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
The IceCaps were up 2-1 until 12:30 of the third period, when veteran Chuck Kobasew, back in the Penguins’ lineup after missing three games — all St. John’s wins — because of an injury, brought the home side even, banging home a goal after sustained Wilkes-Barre pressure in the offensive zone.
The score held 2-2 and the contest looked like it might be headed to overtime until Sill skated untounched towards the IceCaps goal, corralled a loose puck at the top of the crease and beat Michael Hutchinson at 19:44.
Ten seconds later, Kobasew scored an empty-netter, which was followed by a multi-player melee.
Will O’Neill and Patrice Cormier scored power-play goals for St. John’s, O’Neill’s coming on a five-on-three advantage in the first period, Cormier’s on a deflection of an O’Neill wrister at 14:05 of the second period.
Former IceCap Spencer Machacek had the other goal for Wilkes-Barre, tying the score at 1-1 early in the middle frame with a well-placed shot on an odd-man rush.
Hutchinson, who had allowed only two goals in the previous three games of the series, all St. John’s wins — a couple of 2-1 decisions sandwiched around a 5-0 shutout — faced 32 shots. At the other end, the Penguins’ Peter Mannino made 19 saves.
Andrew Gordon has assists on both St. John’s goals, giving him a team-leading 16 points in 15 playoff games.
With his two points, O’Neill is second in post-season scoring for St. John’s with 13 points in 13 games, but the defenceman’s availability for Game 6 is in question because of a match penalty he was assessed for high-sticking Kobasew during the fracas following the latter’s empty-net goal. The penalty will be automatically reviewed by the league to see if a suspension is warranted.
In addition to the match penalty agianst Will O'Neill, there were 10 misconducts, five to each team, handed out for the brouhaha in the waning seconds of the game ... St. John’s had won all previous eight times it had led after two periods in these playoffs … The IceCaps finished two-for-six on the power play, the third straight game in which St. John’s scored two PP markers. The Penguins went zero-for-seven with the man advantage Saturday, and are zero-for-27 on the power play in the series … O’Neill’s goal was his second of the playoffs. They have come in back-toback games on two-man advantages for the IceCaps, who have scored a five-on-three marker in three straight contests … St. John’s has scored first in 13 of 15 playoff games this spring. The IceCaps have won 10 of those first-goal games …In addition to Chuck Kobasew, who leads the Penguins in playoff scoring with 14 points in 12 games, the Penguins also got veteran forward Andrew Ebbett back for Game 5. Ebbett, who was third in regular-season scoring for Wilkes-Barre, hadn’t played since the Penguins’ first-round series against Binghamton, and was sidelined for 11 games in all … For the IceCaps, Josh Morrissey returned to action after missing Thursday night’s 2-1 win because of an injury. He iwas one of seven defencemen for St. John’s as Kris Fredheim is also dressed. That meant the IceCaps went with 11 forwards; rookie JC Lipon sat for the first time in these playoffs, while winger Jerome Samson, who had 27 goals in the regular season, didn’t dressed for a fourth straight game … The winner of this series will take on either the Texas Stars or Toronto Marlies. The Stars lead the Western Conference final 3-2 after edging the Marlies 2-1 Saturday afternoon at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Game 6 in that matchup in Monday night in Cedar Park, Tex. ... Saturday's three stars in Wilkes-Barre were all Penguins: 1. Zach Sill; 2. Kobasew; 3. Spencer Machacek ... Brian Rogers' choice as the Mary Brown's hardest-working IceCap: O'Neill ...