By The Numbers - Penguins & PBruins

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Without Andrew Ebbett (ruled out for Game Seven), Brian Gibbons has been centering the team's top line.
Last year in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Penguins fell behind three games to none before pulling off the unthinkable, winning four straight games - including Games Six and Seven on the road - to cap a historic comeback.

On Wednesday night, the two teams will battle in a Game Seven for the second straight year but this time the roles are reversed. The PBruins came into Wilkes-Barre needing to win Game Six on the road to force a Game Seven. The Penguins didn't have a 3-0 series lead slip away - the series was tied 2-2 after four games - but nonetheless one game will determine who moves on and who goes home.

If you can't make it to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the 7:05 p.m. ET face-off, you can follow the game right here at Highland Park Hockey with live in-game updates on the Twitter feed and a post game recap shortly following the conclusion of the game.

How It Got To Game Seven

This year, the Penguins and PBruins have had a back-and-forth series through six games. The Bruins took Game One with a decisive 4-0 win in Wilkes-Barre and the Pens responded the next night with a 6-1 rout of the PBruins to even the series.

The series then shifted to Providence for three straight games. In Game Three last Wednesday night, the PBruins jumped out to a 4-1 lead only to have the Penguins rally for a 5-4 double overtime victory.

Friday's Game Four featured some controversy, as the PBruins tied the game with 0.6 seconds left to force overtime and won it in the extra session after a seemingly covered puck was whacked in past Penguins goaltender Peter Mannino. The Penguins responded with a big Game Five win, to send the series back to Wilkes-Barre with a 3-2 series lead.

Just as the Pens responded in Game Five, the PBruins responded in Game Six although not until after another questionable call went against the Penguins. Bobby Farnham appeared to have put his team ahead 1-0 in the second period only to have the goal called off on what the Penguins felt was a similar play to the overtime goal in Game Four that they were scored on. The ruling was that Farnham pushed the puck across the line along with the goaltender.

From there, a bad defensive pinch in and a center ice turnover sprung the quick transition PBruins to a 2-0 lead. The Penguins failed to draw the game within one on a late 2nd period power play and took a slashing minor of their own. The PBruins cashed in on that power play early in the third and never looked back.

So for the second straight year, the Penguins and PBruins will need a Game Seven to decide who advances to the Eastern Conference finals to face the St. John's IceCaps this weekend. Last year in Providence, it was the Penguins completing the comeback with a 5-0 win. Can the Penguins win Game Seven on home ice this season and eliminate the PBruins for a second straight year, or will history repeat itself with the road team winning Games Six and Seven in comeback fashion?

The Series In Numbers

You can basically throw out the stats from the first six games, right? Anything can happen. But I'd be remiss if I didn't include any statistics or numbers in a "By The Numbers" post, so here they are:
  • The Penguins are 5-2 all-time in playoff Game Sevens.
  • The power play has been the difference maker for the Pens this series. In their three wins, the power play has gone 5-for-15. In their three losses? How about 0-for-11.
  • The team that has scored first has gone 5-1 this series. Obviously, the first goal in a Game Seven is important.
  • Goalies can steal games in the postseason and both team's netminders have come up big in this series. Peter Mannino did in Game Five, stopping 31 of 33 shots including several big saves at crucial moments. Niklas Svedberg stole Game Six on Monday night, stopping 36 of 37 shots including all 14 he faced in a first period dominated by the Penguins.
  • In big games you look for each team's top players to take over and be at their best. For Providence, it's a trio of young forwards in Alexander Khokhlachev (7G-5A), Ryan Spooner (5G-8A) and Seth Griffith (4G-7A). For the Penguins, without Andrew Ebbett (six points in four games), they turn to veterans like Chuck Kobasew (5G-5A) and team captain Tom Kostopoulos (3G-4A) to lead the way.


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