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The St. John’s IceCaps shook off the rust from Game One and responded in a big way with a nailbiting 2-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final, evening the series at one game apiece.
LAST GAME: Carl Klingberg’s deflection on a shot from Will O’Neill in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the IceCaps held on to defeat the Penguins 2-1 at Mile One Centre on Sunday night.
Kyle MacKinnon notched his second goal of the playoffs in the first period as a pass from Blair Riley sent MacKinnon on a partial breakaway. He would make no mistake and fired the puck behind Penguins starter Peter Mannino to open the scoring at 13:54.
The score remained 1-0 until the 6:24 mark of the second frame, when O’Neill took a hard wrist shot from the point. Klingberg managed to get a stick on the puck and put it behind Mannino for the IceCaps’ first two-goal lead of the series.
As time ticked off the clock, IceCaps starter Michael Hutchinson started to steal the show. After making 21 saves through two periods, the Penguins finally found the back of the net as Anton Zlobin took advantage of a sprawling Hutchinson and roofed home his sixth goal of the postseason with just over a minute remaining in the game.
That’s as close as they would get as Hutchinson finished the game with first star honours and a 34-save performance. Mannino played well in the Penguins’ net and finished his night with 27 saves and his first loss of the series.
NOTES FROM LAST GAME: Not dressed for St. John’s: Kris Fredheim, Jerome Samson, Ryan Olsen, Cody Lampl, Ryan Schnell, Julian Melchiori, Brandon MacLean, Austen Brassard, Jussi Olkinuora, Eddie Pasquale… The IceCaps went 0-for-3 on the man advantage and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill… Andrew Gordon saw his two-game goal-scoring streak come to an end… The IceCaps have scored the game’s first goal in 10-of-12 contests this postseason… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Michael Hutchinson 2. Carl Klingberg 3. Kyle MacKinnon… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Patrice Cormier.
RESPONDING WELL: The IceCaps have yet to lose back-to-back games during their 2014 playoff run. St. John’s has recorded four losses in twelve postseason contests thus far and has followed each loss with a victory. Including the end of the regular season, the IceCaps haven’t lost two consecutive games since April 12.
FIRST GOAL WINS: With the opening goal to their credit in Game 2, the IceCaps have now scored first in ten of twelve postseason contests, winning eight. The Penguins are equally as strong when finding the back of the net early. They have scored the game’s opening goal in seven of their 13 playoff games and have come away with six victories.
CREAM OF THE CROP: The IceCaps certainly have to be pleased with the heavy lifting done by the team’s offensive leaders. Of the 33 goals the IceCaps have scored over their 12 postseason games to date, Andrew Gordon (8) and Eric O’Dell (7) account for 15 of them.
GOALIE LEADER: Combining the IceCaps’ Game 2 win and the Toronto Marlies’ tough 6-3 loss to the Texas Stars in Game Two of the Western Conference Final, IceCaps starting goaltender Michael Hutchinson is now the league leader in several important statistical categories. Among remaining goaltenders in the 2014 playoffs, Hutchinson ranks first in goals against average (1.89) and saves made (348), is tied for first in wins (8) and ranks second to the Marlies’ Drew MacIntyre in save percentage (.941).
STREAKING: After going scoreless in his first eight playoff games, Kyle MacKinnon has points in four straight (2G, 2A).
HEAD-TO-HEAD LEADERS (2014 Playoffs)
St. John’s: Andrew Gordon (2GP, 2-0-2) | Kyle MacKinnon (2GP, 1-1-2) | Michael Hutchinson (1-1-0, 2.03 GAA, .940 save %)
W-B/Scranton: Conor Sheary (2GP, 1-1-2) | Anton Zlobin (2GP, 1-1-2) | Peter Mannino (1-1-0, 2.02 GAA, .935 save %)