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Anemic power play dooms WBS in Eastern Conference finals

Last updated: June 03. 2014 11:53PM - 1216 Views
By Robin Short Special to The Times Leader



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ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins secured a Calder Cup post season berth with only two points to spare, had an epic battle with the Providence Bruins in their second-round playoff series and took the St. John's IceCaps to six games in the Eastern Conference finals.
But none of that made any difference Tuesday night after the Penguins were bounced from the Calder Cup dance following a 5-0 loss to the IceCaps at Mile One Centre.
“This is the toughest day in hockey,” said Penguins coach John Hynes, “particularly the longer you go the worse it is, the harder it is to lose.”
The Penguins battled to the end, but couldn't solve IceCaps goalie Michael Hutchinson, who stopped all 34 pucks he faced for his third shutout of the playoffs.
“Hands down the best goalie in hockey not named Quick and Lundqvist,” said St. John's captain Jason Jaffray of Hutchinson, referring to Stanley Cup final goalies Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist.
“The guy's been an absolute stud. Good teams need great goalies. I've said it from the start, we've got one of the best, for sure.”
But while Hutchinson proved to be a formidable foe, the Penguins' undoing was their power play.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was a woeful zero-for-32 in the series.
The Penguins had a glorious chance to strike early Tuesday when the IceCaps' Kael Mouillierat picked up four minutes for high sticking 4:42 after the opening faceoff.
Less than a minute after he exited the penalty box, Patrice Cormier was nabbed for high sticking.
But the Penguins whiffed during all six minutes with the man advantage.
“Our PK won us this series,” Jaffray said. “You go a whole series without scoring a power goal, you don't have a good chance at winning.”
The IceCaps got goals from five different players – Eric O'Dell, Adam Lowry, Blair Riley, Zach Redmond and Jaffray, who scored into an empty net to ice the Penguins.
Hynes pulled goalie Peter Mannino, who finished with 24 saves, with nine minutes to go in regulation time.
“Right now, I'm just thankful to have coached such a great group,” a sombre Hynes said afterwards. “They were resilient, they worked hard, and any time you get to this point in the playoff run, you know you have a great character team.
“Guys go to war for each other every night, and that's what we did. That's probably the most disappointing part because this is probably the last time we'll be together as a group.”

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