The second-longest game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history saw Zach O’Brien end things at 4:13 of triple overtime as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Penguins, 4-3, on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal.
The game was tied, 2-2, in the second period when Monarchs defenseman Colin Miller gave his team their third lead of the contest. Gathering a clean win in the draw by Jordan Weal, Miller sneaked a wrist shot under the arm of Penguins goaltender Matt Murray at 11:50 of the frame.
The Penguins pulled even 8:19 into the third period on Conor Sheary’s third goal of the postseason. The rookie forward looped out of the near corner with the puck and drove toward the crease before lifting a backhand shot to the top of the Monarchs net.
Almost 56 minutes of play went by without a goal by either side until David Van Gulik zipped a rink-wide pass to the right dot for O’Brien. The Monarchs forward broke in alone before slapping the deciding tally past Murray.
The first goal of Game 1 came only 18 seconds into the contest after Adrian Kempe forced a turnover in the Penguins end and quickly centered a pass that Nick Shore chipped through the pads of Murray for a 1-0 Monarchs lead.
Taylor Chorney had a response for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton three minutes later as Kasperi Kapanen whipped a pass across the Manchester zone that found the Penguins defenseman at the left point for a wrist shot past a screened Jean-Francois Berube.
Manchester took back its one-goal edge and made the score 2-1 when Miller fired a slapshot from the center blueline that was blocked in front, but Weal was able to find Brian O’Neill wide open on the near post for the easy tap-in.
Skating on a 5-on-4 advantage late in the opening frame, the Penguins were able to knot the score for a second time. After Sheary tapped a loose puck in the faceoff to the point, Derrick Pouliot slid a pass to the right circle that Scott Wilson one-timed into the net with just 10.8 seconds left until the intermission.
Murray suffered his first loss of the postseason, making 52 saves on 56 shots. Berube turned aside 40-of-43 to win his fourth game in as many starts on home ice this postseason.
The Penguins and Monarchs take the ice for Game 2 on Thursday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. Listen in on WILK Newsradio or watch online at AHL Live.