Chuck Kobasew, Conor Sheary and Tom Kostopoulos tallied for the visitors, while Peter Mannino made 31 saves, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins posted a 3-2 win over the St. John's IceCaps in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday night at the Mile One Centre. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series takes place Sunday night at 6:00 p.m.
The teams traded first period goals, with Kobasew opening the scoring at 7:02. Brian Gibbons carried the puck up the left side and fed the veteran forward at the goal crease, where he put home his sixth goal of the postseason for the early lead.
Andrew Gordon cancelled that tally out six and a half minutes later, picking up a puck that jumped off the back boards and swatting home a shot at Mannino's right side for his first goal of the evening.
The Pens pulled in front for good with a pair of second period scores.
An amateur tryout from the University of Massachusetts, Sheary grabbed a puck on the near boards, then flung a shot that fluttered off of goaltender Michael Hutchinson's glove. The puck fell behind the netminder, and Sheary tapped it home at 2:32 of the second frame. The goal gave the rookie 10 points in 10 games, good for third on the team.
Kostopoulos netted his fourth of the playoffs 12 minutes later, taking a cross ice pass during a three-on-two break and beating Hutchinson over his left shoulder for his fourth goal of the postseason.
Gordon picked up his second goal of the evening 5:31 into the third period, sniping a shot off of an offensive zone faceoff just one second after Zach Sill and Eric O'Dell were whistled for coincidental minors.
The Penguins penalty kill came up big on the night, snuffing St. John's on five different occasions.
The two teams will meet again Sunday night in St. John's, before the series heads to Wilkes-Barre for games on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (if necessary).