Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Destination, St. John’s — Pens WIN 5-4 (Win Series 4-3)

   button_adk200       vs.       WBS

  4                                     5

It was almost, “Destination Implosion” or, “Charlotte Redux”

After going up 5-0 on the first six shots in 7:16 of the second period, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were rolling. They had just chased Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg and scored on on Malcolm Subban and it looked like there was nothing that could stop them. Nothing.

Then, David Warsofsky scores a shorthanded goal in the final minute and it was all of a sudden 5-1.

It’s cool, we got this. Penguins fans and media all across the American Hockey League were penciling in the Penguins names as the opponent for the St. John’s IceCaps.

These eyes have witnessed the Charlotte collapse in 2011. The Penguins were up 3-0 in the third period and lost 4-3 and were out of the playoffs just like that. I dubbed that loss, “The Collapse That Will Live in Infamy.” — you can read about it here. I will take that collapse with me to my grave.

It nearly happened again tonight.

:23 into the third period, Ryan Spooner rips a far wrister from Plymouth and it goes in. 5-2.

Providence started to push, push, push.

Out of a media timeout, Alex Khokhlachev scores. It’s 5-3.

Time out Hynes. Settle down guys. There’s still plenty of time left, but we pride ourselves on defense and goaltending. Play some.

Philip Samuelsson gets whistled for interference. Providence power play.

Hello, Khoko! It’s 5-4. Scramble in front. Khokhlachev had a wide open net. It’s 5-4.

10:05 left. Stunned. This cannot be happening. I do not believe my eyes.

Finally, it settles. But not before Mannino gets handcuffed on a shot and two Bruins whiff at shots ticketed for the net behind the Wilkes-Barre netminder.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Zac Dalpe…Chris Terry… Brent Sutter… Chubby Checker……

Whistle during play. What is it? Bruins caught for too many men. Penguins power play. 4:02 left. Get one here and it’s put away forever.

Tom Kostopoulos, the lifeblood of this team, stoned point blank by Malcolm Subban. Bruins kill it. Then, Philip Samuelsson takes a slash.

Zac Dalpe….Chris Terry… Brent Sutter….

The Penguins needed the penalty kill of their 15 year franchise.

Last minute.

Brian Gibbons eats an Alexander Khokhlachev high stick. 4:00 penalty for high sticking. Faceoff in the Providence zone with 14.1 seconds left.

Chubby is in the car, driving away. Zac Dalpe, Brent Sutter and Chris Terry slip quietly into the night again.

There would be no meltdown. The Penguins narrowly defeat the Providence Bruins by a score of 5-4 tonight. They will face the St. John’s IceCaps in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning Saturday in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Make no bones about it, the Penguins nearly lost this game and depending on what sect of fan base you talk to, may have deserved to have lost this game. But five goals to comeback from is nearly an insurmountable lead to comeback from at any level. The Providence Bruins nearly accomplished just that.

After a scoreless first period, where the Pengiuns outshot the Bruins 10-3, then exploded for five goals in the second period.

Anton Zlobin coasted down the right side and threw a shot on net that banked in off of Chris Casto’s skate for a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins would score on a power play when Nick Drazenovic set up Conor Sheary on the near post who stuffed it in to make it 2-0 Penguins.

Bruins would call a timeout. Adam Payerl would get interfered with then Anton Zlobin would take a hooking call. Jayson Megna would score to make it 3-0. Before anyone knew what happened, Brian Gibbons would score to make it 4-0 after he got away and slipped one under Svedberg’s pads.

Malcolm Subban would relieve Svedberg in net. The Penguins just scored four goals in 5:35.

Craig Cunningham would get called for goalie interference. Brendan Mikkelson would fire in a shot from the blue line that would go in to make it 5-0.

Harry Zolnierczyk was denied on a wraparound shot that Subban got a toe save on. Conor Sheary and Adam Payerl came in two on one that Subban made a glove save on. That was the last great effort that I remember in the game for the Penguins.

I tweeted this:

[tweet https://twitter.com/nafsnep/status/469273902779482113]

Turns out I was right. But not too right this time like in Game 6 of this series.

Now the Penguins have two days to get ready to fly to St. John’s and take on an IceCaps team that is rested and has home ice advantage.

Here is the schedule:

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M”
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins 

Game 1 – Sat., May 24 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
Game 2 – Sun., May 25 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
Game 3 – Wed., May 28 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
Game 4 – Thu., May 29 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
*Game 5 – Sat., May 31 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
*Game 6 – Tue., June 3 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
*Game 7 – Wed., June 4 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
    *if necessary… All times Eastern

Here is what the blog schedule will look like leading up to Game 1 Saturday in St. John’s…

Thursday: Chart refreshes for the Penguins and the IceCaps. As soon as I get those together I will tweet them then blog about them later.

Friday: Series Preview against St. John’s. The IceCaps are an experienced club. They have names like Jason Jaffray, Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson. Michael Hutchinson is their goalie. The IceCaps don’t have a two headed goaltending monster like Providence had. It’s going to be a great series.

The other series is Texas and Toronto. I have Texas as the favorite to win it all in the West and the Marlies haven’t lost a playoff game yet, sweeping the Milwaukee Admirals in Round 1 and the Chicago Wolves in Round 2.

Coal Street will cut up the video highlights and I’ll edit accordingly Thursday. Here they are…

[youtube http://youtu.be/_4H1JoKdNZU]

The Penguins got to the halfway point in their pursuit for their first ever Calder Cup on seven cylinders and a flat tire. With the dismissal of the Bruins, Griffins, Wolves and Admirals in Round Two, the American Hockey League will have a first time champion crowned again for the second season in a row with the Stars, Marlies, IceCaps and Penguins still alive. After two thrilling series, the Penguins are only at half way and the best is yet to come.

More Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and beyond.

Let’s Go Pens!!!!

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