PENGUINS 5, SOUND TIGERS 4
By Kerry Gwydir
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won the pivotal AHL Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7 at the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre by a 5-4 score Saturday night. A furious rally in the end where the Sound Tigers pulled within one twice in the final minutes of regulation wasn't enough to complete the rally.
Ryan Whitney tallied at the 8:58 mark to open the scoring in the first. The Baby Pens' Ryan Stone won a puck battle in the high slot, which drew a pair of Bridgeport players. That allowed two Wilkes-Barre players, including Whitney, to walk in alone on the Bridgeport goal for the score.
Allan Rourke, back in the lineup after missing Games 1-6 with a groin injury suffered with the Islanders, returned the favor with a powerplay goal with 9:03 left in the first. Robert Nilsson completed a pretty across-the-slot feed to Rourke, who cut behind the Wilkes-Barre coverage to pot a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury's trapper.
But the hosts regained their lead with 2:24 left in the opening period. Erik Christensen corralled a turnover by the Sound Tigers at their own blueline and buried a wrister from the left faceoff dot over Wade Dubielewicz's blocker.
After killing off a Bridgeport powerplay to start the second, the Penguins came right down and converted a 4-on-2 break inside the first two minutes of the second. Daniel Carcillo roofed a Whitney pass into the top shelf of the net. Yet, the see-saw continued on the next shift.
That's when Justin Papineau jammed home the rebound of a Ryan O'Marra tip-try past Fleury. The goaltender gave up a big rebound on the original shot from the right boards by Blake Comeau.
Matters continued to go in the Sound Tigers' favor on the next shift when they received a five-minute powerplay after O'Marra was high-sticked by Carcillo. The Sound Tigers failed to convert the huge opportunity even as they generated several late chances as the penalty expired. The Sound Tigers continued to gain powerplay chances late in the second following the major, but did not score on either opportunity.
With one second remaining on a penalty to Papineau and a delayed penalty coming to Rob Collins, Stone buried his third of the postseason at the 4:47 mark. Christensen garnered the lone assist when he found Stone cruising down the slot unchecked.
The Tigers didn't go quietly. With 2:51 left in the third, Bruno Gervais blasted home a powerplay tally to pull the Sound Tigers within one. Justin Papineau and Denis Grebeshkov knocked the assists on the tally. However, Jon Filewich scored an empty-netter re-gain the two-goal lead as the Sound Tigers looked for the equalizer. But, it wasn't over.
The drama continued when the S-Tigers recorded a score with 44.4 to go in regulation. Rob Collins fired a shot from the left faceoff dot to bring the game back to high-drama when he beat Fleury. In the end, the Sound Tigers ran out of time as they spend the final moments of the game pressing in the Wilkes-Barre end.
C Jeremy Colliton was not in the lineup as he is attending the funeral of his grandmother in Western Canada.
GAME 7 LINEUPS
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
10 Sean Bergenheim 19 Rob Collins - 11 Robert Nilsson
9 Jeff Tambellini - 24 Matt Koalska 14 Blake Comeau
15 Masi Marjamaki - 39 Steve Regier 58 Dave Masse
17 Justin Papineau - 20 Ryan O'Marra
3 Denis Grebeshkov - 41 Harlan Pratt
8 Cole Jarrett - 12 Bruno Gervais
25 Tomi Pettinen - 21 Ryan Caldwell
26 Allan Rourke
31 Wade Dubielewicz
29 Fredric Cloutier
23 Ryan Stone - 21 Maxime Talbot - 18 Jonathan Filewich
28 Matt Hussey - 16 Erik Christensen 17 Guillaume Lefebrve
10 Stephen Dixon - 14 Shane Endicott - 11 Krystofer Kolanos
13 Daniel Carcillo - 38 Kurtis McLean - 15 Kenny Corupe
4 Chris Kelleher - 19 Ryan Whitney
26 Ryan Lannon - 5 Noah Welch
20 Paul Bissonnette - 33 Drew Fata
29 - Marc-Andre Fleury
35 - Danny Sabourin