SYRACUSE, N.Y. –The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins made history for the second time this postseason during Game 5 against the Syracuse Crunch in the Eastern Conference finals.
But the history the Penguins made on Saturday was the kind they’d like to go back in time and erase.
A hat trick for Syracuse forward Philippe Paradis, along with four other goals, brought an abrupt end to the Penguins playoff run with a 7-0 defeat, dropping the series 4-1. The exit comes on the heels of the Penguins historic turnaround to erase a 3-0 Providence lead in the previous series.
Down 3-1 to Syracuse, however, there wasn’t going to be a second historic comeback. Instead, the Penguins exited with their most lopsided loss in playoff history.
Head coach said the historic comeback against Providence couple with the tight games early in the Syracuse series took a toll on his team.
“You could see a little bit of it catch up today - a mental thing more than anything,” he said. “We played a lot fo emotional hockey, hockey that required a lot of effort to go through. Eventually it takes a toll.”
Down 3-1 and facing elimination for the first time in the series, Hynes felt it was time for a lineup change for Game 5.
Actually, several of them.
Out was goaltender Brad Thiessen, who allowed seven goals in the last three games – all losses. In was Jeff Zatkoff, who hadn’t played since Hynes pulled him after the first period of Game 2 in the series against Providence.
On defense, top draft picks Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington played in their third and second straight games, respectively. Bobby Farnham also dressed for the first time in the series while 2012 first round pick defenseman Derrick Pouliot played in his first professional game.
Hynes said the youngsters were inserted into the lineup because they brought speed and a new dynamic to the blueline, while Zatkoff has been able to steal games all throughout the regular season.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen tonight,” Hynes said.
After winning Game 1 the Penguins lost the last four to Syracuse. And while they were unable to advance to the Calder Cup finals for what would’ve been a fourth time in franchise history, the Penguins’ conference finals appearance marked the farthest they’ve made it in the playoffs since 2008.
But a potent Crunch team made sure it would go no further, beating the Penguins at both ends of the ice. After allowing the fewest goals in the regular season, the Penguins were scorched for seven for the first time all year, and it seemed like Syracuse wasn’t going to stop.
The Crunch pressed harder as the first period progressed, generating two goals in 52 seconds.
Vlad Namestnikov struck first at 16:04 when he poked in a shot that had deflected in the air and landed behind Zatkoff for a 1-0 lead.
Crunch defenseman Radko Gudas made it 2-0 less than a minute when his shot from the point went through traffic in front and under Zatkoff.
“Once you’re playing from behind it gets difficult, particularly with two tired teams,” Hynes said. “We couldn’t get within one early in the game and then it just snowballed after that.”
In the last half of the second period, Syracuse scored three times – a wrap-around by Philippe Paradis, a one-timer from Dan Sexton and a power play tip by Ondrej Palat – all within five minutes, to put the Penguins in an insurmountable 5-0 hole.
Team captain Joey Mormina said he liked the way his team played prior to the Syracuse outburst.
“We carried the play for a little bit, then a couple mistakes, unraveled and the next thing you know it’s 5-0,” he said.
While the Crunch offense soared, the Penguins struggled to generate chances and were outshot 15-6 in the second period alone.
Paradis notched the hat trick with a pair of third period goals to put the Penguins down 7-0 and bring an abrupt end to Zatkoff’s night. He stopped 22-of-29 shots before being replaced by Thiessen.
On the night, the Penguins were 0-for-4 on the power play and were outshot 30-23 by Syracuse, which won by shutouts in two of the last three games.
Despite the loss, Hynes said the 2013 postseason was a success in that the Penguins made history with their comeback and advanced further in the playoffs than they have since 2008.
“We came in as a low seed and worked our way to the conference finals,” Hynes said. Obviously we’re all disappointed we didn’t get further, but we’re proud of what we did. (Syracuse) is a good team. Credit to them, they were the better team in the series.”
- Summary of the Penguins lineup changes for Game 5: In – G Jeff Zatkoff, LW Bobby Farnham, LW Derek Nesbitt, D Derrick Pouliot. Out – G Brad Thiessen, D Peter Merth, RW Christiaan Minella, LW Chris Collins.
- G Scott Darling, D Dylan Reese (injury), D Peter Merth, D Cody Wild, C Chris Barton, D Reid McNeill, RW Christiaan Minella, C Phil Dupuis (injury), D Alex Grant, LW Chris Collins, LW Steve MacIntyre, D Harrison Ruopp and RW Matia Marcantuoni were scratched for the Penguins.
- During the regular season and playoffs combined, the Penguins were shutout five times in 13 games against the Crunch.
Penguins 0 Syracuse 7
Penguins 0 0 0 — 0
Syracuse 2 3 2 - 7
Scoring – 1. SYR, Vlad Namestnikov 2 (Sustr, Johnson) 16:04. 2. SYR, Radko Gudas 2 (Brown, Wyman) 16:56. Penalties – SYR, Barberio (slashing) :51; WBS, Sill (unsportsmanlike conduct) 8:02; WBS, Uher (tripping) 8:02; SYR, Gudas (unsportsmanlike conduct) 8:02; SYR, Brown (high-sticking) 17:32.
Scoring – 3. SYR, Philippe Paradis 1 (Barberio, Sustr) 13:37. 4. SYR, Dan Sexton 4 (Devos) 15:31. 5. SYR, Ondrej Palat 5 (Sexton, Barberio) power play 17:58. Penalties – SYR, Taormina (interference) 2:14; WBS, Dumoulin (holding) 10:50; WBS, Mormina (high-sticking) 16:48.
Scoring – 6. SYR, Philippe Paradis 2 (Sustr) 1:02. 7. SYR, Philippe Paradis 3 (Sexton, Barberio) 5:43. Penalties – WBS, Thompson (fighting) 4:11; SYR, Korobov (fighting) 4:11; SYR, Paradis (roughing) 9:05.
Shots on goal
Penguins – 9-6-8-23
Syracuse – 11-15-4-30
Penguins – 0 of 4
Syracuse – 1 of 3
Penguins – Jeff Zatkoff 2-3 (22 saves – 29 shots); Brad Thiessen - 14:47 in the third period (1-1)
Syracuse – Cedrick Desjardins 11-1 (23-23)
Penguins – G Jeff Zatkoff, D Joey Mormina, D Olli Maatta, LW Bobby Farnham, C Zach Sill, RW Dominik Uher
Syracuse – G Cedrick Desjardins, D Mark Barberio, D J.P. Cote, LW J.T. Wyman, C Mike Angelidis, RW J.T. Brown
1. SYR, Philippe Paradis (hat trick) 2. SYR, Cedrick Desjardins (23 saves, shutout) 3. SYR, Dan Sexton (goal, assist)
Referee – Mark Lemelin, Darcy Burchell. Linesmen – Kiel Murchison, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 5,615