WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins posted five goals in a span of 5:59, then hung on to post a 5-4 win over the Providence Bruins in Game 7 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Semifinal round on Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre. The Penguins eliminated the Bruins from the postseason for the second consecutive season, and will now face the St. John’s IceCaps in the Eastern Conference Final. Game 1 takes place this Saturday night in Newfoundland.
The Penguins dominated the first period of play, but had nothing to show for a solid 20 minutes of hockey despite outshooting the Bruins 10-3 in the opening frame.
They made up for lost time in the second period.
Anton Zlobin attempted a cross ice feed to Conor Sheary after a steal in the neutral zone, but his pass knocked off the skate of Chris Casto in the slot, and bounced past Niklas Svedberg at 1:17 of the second to give the Pens the 1-0 lead.
Sheary made it a 2-0 game 2:07 later. Nick Drazenovic took a feed from Chuck Kobasew, drawing Svedberg out of his net. That left Sheary all alone on the right post, and he easily swatted home his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Jayson Megna took a drop pass from Harry Zolnierczyk just inside the blue line and lazered home his first of the playoffs into the far corner at 5:22.
Brian Gibbons scored what could arguably be the goal of the year off the ensuing face-off when he dangled around five Bruins skaters and slipped a shot through Svedberg’s five hole for his first of the AHL postseason at 5:35 to make it a 4-0 game.
Brendan Mikkelson notched the Pens’ second power play marker of the period at 7:16 with a shot through traffic, giving the home club what seemed to be a comfortable lead.
But the Bruins weren’t about to go down without a fight.
David Warsofsky beat a screened Peter Mannino with a point shot that found the far corner during a late penalty kill to make it a 5-1 game after 40 minutes, and Ryan Spooner cut the lead to three 23 seconds into the third frame with a long wrist shot.
Alexander Khokhlachev netted the next two goals, picking up the rebound off of a Spooner shot for his eighth of the playoffs at 6:43, then redirecting a Tommy Cross centering feed past Mannino’s left skate at 9:55 of the third.
The Penguins were able to shut down the Providence attack the rest of the way though, defeating their Atlantic Division foes in seven games for the second straight year.
Megna (1G-1A) was the only Penguins player to record multiple points on the night, while nine other Wilkes-Barre skaters notched one apiece.
The Penguins remained undefeated in home Game 7's, upping their record to 3-0. They also improved their overall record in winner-take-all contests to 8-2 all-time, and 2-0 against the Bruins.