PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After two straight blowouts, Game 3 of the Calder Cup Eastern Conference semifinals between the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and the Providence Bruins turned into a nail-biter Wednesday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Fortunately for the Penguins, this one went in their favor. At 7:32 of double overtime, Simon Despres scored his second goal of the contest, giving the Pens an exciting 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
Wilkes-Barre Scranton won its second consecutive game and will look for its third on Friday night when the two teams meet again at 7:05.
This one had the makings of another blowout for P-Bruins, who held a 4-1 lead with less than 12 minutes remaining. But the Penguins roared back with three unanswered goals to send the game into overtime.
The Penguins were out-shot by an 8-4 advantage in the first period, but had the best chances to score with a pair of power-play opportunities. The first came just 2:42 into the period after a high-sticking penalty by goalie Niklas Svedberg. For the first minute of the penalty, the Penguins kept the puck in the P-Bruin’s zone but couldn’t get any solid opportunities to score. With two seconds left in the power play, a fierce attack in front of the cage by the Pens was squelched by outstanding netminding from Svedberg.
Three minutes later, a holding penalty gave the Penguins another power play and again they couldn’t capitalize with the man advantage with just one shot at the P-Bruins goalie.
The Pens came out more aggressive in the second period and after numerous opportunities the first half of the stanza finally capitalized on a nice, wrap-around goal by Chuck Kobasew at 7:14 that was assisted by Reid McNeill and Conor Sheary. Kobasew got the puck from behind the net and fired a shot from the corner of cage.
Providence evened things at up at 1-all with 4:44 left when Seth Griffin scored on a power play, firing a slap shot from in front of the blue line that made its way to the left corner of the cage.
With 1:24 left, a scramble in front of the cage resulted in another Providence score and a 2-1 lead for the home team entering the final period when Joe Morrow netted his second goal of the playoffs from just outside the crease.
Only 15 seconds into the third, the P-Bruins lit the lamp once again when Blake Parlett unleashed a hard shot from the blue line that zipped into the back of the cage. After a time out by the Pens, the scoring surge continued for Providence less than a minute later when Alexander Khokhlachev scored from just outside the crease to make it 4-1.
But the Penguins didn’t give up.
The Pens managed to cut the lead in half at 7:37 with Tom Kostopoulos taking advantage of a power play with a close-ranger that had the assistance of a slight kick by Svedberg between the pipes. WBS got back into the game, tying the contest with two goals in just under a two-minute span. Despres fired a shot from through the five-hole at 12:10 that bounced off a Providence stick and past a surprised Svedberg. Sheary tied the game at 4 with a shot from near the crease that went top post at 14:09.
Scoring – No scoring. Penalties- Niklas Svedberg, Providence (high sticking) 2:42; Randell, Providence (holding) 5:44.
Scoring – 1, W-B/Scranton, Chuck Kobasew (Reid McNeill, Conor Sheary) 7:14; 2, Providence, Seth Griffith (Ryan Spooner, David Warsofsky) 15:16; 3, Providence, Joe Morrow (Blake Parlett, Craig Cunningham) 18:36. Penalties – Harrison Ruopp, W-B/Scranton (roughing) 13:59.
Scoring – 4, Providence, Parlett (Spooner) :15; 5, Providence, A. Khokhlachev (M. Moore) 1:06; 6, W-B/Scranton, Tom Kostopoulos (A. Ziobin, B. Mikkelson) 7:37pp; 7, W-B/Scranton, Simon Despres (H. Zoinierczyk, Sheary) 12:10; 8, Sheary (B. Dumoulin) 14:09; Penalties – Adam Payeri, W-B/Scranton (high sticking) 1:21; Griffith, Providence (tripping) 2:18; Chris Casto, Providence (tripping) 7:31; Alexander Fallstrom, Providence (bench minor) 17:50.
Scoring – No scoring. Penalties – W-B/Scranton, Kostopoulos (slashing) 19:15.
Scoring – 9, W-B/Scranton, Despres (Mikkelson, Harry Zolnierczyk) 7:32.
Shots on goal
W-B Scranton, Peter Mannino, 39 saves
Providence, Niklas Svedberg, 35 saves