WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were buoyed by a two-goal performance from 18-year old rookie Kasperi Kapanen and a three-point effort from Carter Rowney (1G-2A) in claiming Game 1 of the best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinal versus the Syracuse Crunch with a 5-1 final on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came into the second period holding a 1-0 lead and would break the game open with three goals in a span of 100 seconds. Making his North American postseason debut, Kapanen doubled the score for the Penguins at 6:03, pulling a puck out of the scrum in the near faceoff circle and sending a wrister to the top left corner of the Crunch net.
Thirty-one seconds later, the Penguins pushed the lead to three on a circle-to-circle feed from Barry Goers that Rowney one-timed past a sprawling Kristers Gudlevskis.
Kapanen capped off the flurry for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 7:43 of the period, gathering the rebound off a shot by Goers and depositing the puck into the open net for his second goal of the match and a 4-0 Penguins lead. Adam Wilcox would enter the game in relief of Gudlevskis, who took the loss after stopping 16 of 20 shots over 27:43 of play.
The Crunch would get the puck past Matt Murray with six minutes left until the second intermission as Mike Angelidis picked up a turnover in the left corner of the offensive zone and slid a pass to the crease that Matthew Peca tipped through the pads of the Penguins netminder.
Danny Syvret added another for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 12:32 of the final period on a fluttering shot from the center point that made its way through a screen and past Wilcox to put the Penguins on top by four once again.
The opening frame remained a stalemate between the two teams until the Penguins took control during the final five minutes of the period. Outshooting Syracuse, 7-0, during that stretch, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went ahead at 16:52 when Tom Kuhnhackl centered a pass from the behind the net that Dominik Uher banged past Gudlevskis.
Making his first start in the Calder Cup Playoffs, Murray turned aside 22-of-23 in the win for the Penguins. Wilcox allowed only one goal on 15 shots during the remaining 32:17 of regulation.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Syracuse continue their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Game 2 on Saturday, Apr. 25 at 7:05 p.m.