Zach Sill’s goal with 15.8 seconds left in regulation will allow the Penguins to fight for at least one more game, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 4-2 win over the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.
The victory forces a Game 6 on Tuesday night in St. John’s, with the IceCaps holding a 3-2 series lead.
With time winding down and the game knotted at 2-2, Tom Kostopoulos threw a shot on net from the near boards, and the rebound found Harry Zolnierczyk’s stick. Zolnierczyk then hit a sprinting Sill with a backhand feed, and the Penguins assistant captain wristed his first of the playoffs past a sprawling Michael Hutchinson to give Wilkes-Barre its first lead of the series on home ice.
Chuck Kobasew returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games due to injury, and left his mark on the contest as well.
The Penguins got an offensive zone faceoff and kept the puck moving around the St. John’s defense for approximately one minute and twenty seconds before Kobasew and Andrew Ebbett played a little give-and-go, moving Hutchinson to the far post and leaving the right side of the goal empty for Kobasew.
Kobasew also picked up an empty net goal nine seconds after Sill’s game-winner was put away, giving the veteran forward a team-high eight goals in 13 playoff games.
The IceCaps opened the evening’s scoring 12:27 into the game when Will O’Neill wristed a shot home from the point during a five-on-three power play. That was the lone goal of the first frame.
Former IceCap Spencer Machacek evened the score at 1-1 early in the second, waiting out Hutchinson picking the upper right hand corner during a three-on-one break for the Penguins.
Patrice Cormier put St. John’s back in front with a deflection in front of the net with Scott Harrington in the penalty box at 14:05 of the second period.
Peter Mannino made 19 saves for the Penguins, while Hutchinson turned aside 30 of 33 shots he faced in defeat.
The teams will now travel back to St. John’s where they will face off in Game 6 this Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. Newfoundland Time (6:00 p.m. Eastern Time). Game 7, if necessary, will take place on Wednesday night at the Mile One Centre.
NOTES: Andrew Ebbett returned to the Penguins lineup after missing the previous 11 playoff games, and picked up two assists on the night … With the win, the Penguins are now 23-12 all-time in games when they can be eliminated from the playoffs.