ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland — Former St. John's IceCaps goaltender Peter Mannino returned to Mile One Centre and exacted some revenge on his former team. Mannino stopped 31 pucks as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins drew first blood in the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference Finals.
Veterans Chuck Kobasew and Tom Kostopoulos, and rookie Conor Sheary, fresh out of the U.S. college hockey ranks, scored as the Penguins edged the IceCaps 3-2 in Game 1 of their third-round Calder Cup playoff series Saturday night.
Andrew Gordon had both St. John's goals.
“He played real solid,” Penguins coach John Hynes said of Mannino, who has started all 11 games in the postseason and appeared in 10 games for the IceCaps three years ago. “It was a situation where he made saves when he had to, particularly when St. John's made a really big push.
“I thought we had some exceptional blocked shots, and Peter did the rest with some big saves, which is what you need this time of year.”
Mannino saved his best for when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton needed it the most, coming up with a pair of big stops with less than four minutes left in regulation, including a huge glove save off an Andrew Kichton shot from the point that was his best of the night.
“If there's a breakdown or teams push back, you need your goaltender back there coming up big, and Peter did that tonight,” Hynes said.
Three days after dispatching the Providence Bruins in a tough, down-to-the-wire seven-game conference semifinal, the Pens didn't display any signs of fatigue in Game 1.
Speedy Brian Gibbons broke down the left wing, and made a nice cross-ice pass to a streaking Kobasew, who redirected the puck past Michael Hutchinson for his sixth goal of the playoffs 7:02 into the opening period.
Gordon drew the IceCaps even at 13:42, netting his seventh goal after scooping the puck from behind the goal and tucking it upstairs over Mannino.
Sheary restored the Penguins lead early into the second period, which was dominated by the visitors. The Penguins outshot the IceCaps 14-5 in frame after Sheary beat Hutchinson for his sixth goal of the playoffs..
Kostopoulos scored what would turn out to be the game-winner at 14:36 of the third, cashing in on a three-on-one Penguins advantage with a shot that beat Hutchinson low to the stick side.
Gordon breathed some life into a sellout crowd of 6,287 early into the third period, connecting for his eighth goal of the playoffs at 5:31, but that would be it for the scoring.
The teams go at it again tonight as Game 2 starts at 6 p.m. in St. John's.
Hutchinson, who has shouldered the workload for St. John's in the playoffs, made 29 saves in the IceCaps' net.
Penguins 3, St. John's 2
Game 1, Eastern Conference Finals
(Penguins lead series, 1-0)
First period — 1. Penguins, Kobasew 6 (Gibbons, Harrington), 7:02. 2. St. John's, Gordon 7 (MacKinnon, Redmond), 13:42. Penalties: Machacek WBS (slashing), 7:49; Mouillierat STJ (cross-checking), 17:59; Mikkelson WBS (cross-checking), 18:21.
Second period — 3. Penguins, Sheary 6 (Zlobin), 2:32. 4. Penguins, Kostopoulos 4 (Machacek, Despres), 14:36. Penalties: Cormier STJ (boarding), 2:43; Zolnierczyk WBS (roughing), 6:28; Lowry STJ (roughing), 6:28; served by Machacek WBS (bench minor - too many men), 8:17; Payerl WBS (delay of game), 12:16; Gibbons WBS (interference), 19:55.
Third period — 5. St. John's, Gordon 8 (Albert), 5:31. Penalties: Sill WBS (interference), 5:30; O'Dell STJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 5:30; Kobasew WBS (roughing), 12:40; Cormier STJ (roughing), 12:40.
Shots on goal — Penguins 12-14-6-32. St. John's 14-5-14-33.
Power-play opportunities — Penguins 0-2; St. John's 0-5.
Goalies — Penguins, Mannino 8-4-0 (33 shots-31 saves). St. John's, Hutchinson 7-4-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Referees — Dave Lewis, Trevor Hanson. Linesmen — John Grandt, Joe Maynard.
A — 6,287