Comeback Kids - Despres the Double Overtime Hero

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The goofiest picture of Simon Despres I had in my inventory.
The date was May 8th, 2012. It was Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the St. John's IceCaps. In a must-win game for the Penguins, Simon Despres scored 12:08 into double overtime to send the series back to Newfoundland for Game Six.

Fast forward two years and six days and Despres does it again, this time 6:32 into the second overtime of Game Three tonight against the Providence Bruins, completing the Penguins comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the third period and giving the Pens a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The real story, however, is the play of newcomer Conor Sheary out of the University of Massachusetts. The rookie tallied three points tonight - the game-tying goal and two assists - and is really starting to make a name for himself with the Penguins after playing in just his 7th game at the professional level.

Game Four is Friday night in Providence at 7:05 ET and the plan is to be live from Dunkin Donuts center all weekend with live updates from Rhode Island. Stay tuned to the AHL Penguins postseason run right here at Highland Park Hockey - your source for all the latest Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins news, live updates, post game analysis and more!

In a fast moving first period, the Penguins had two power plays in the first six minutes but were unable to cash in on either man advantage. Credit Niklas Svedberg with a nice save on Anton Zlobin and some good penalty killing by Ryan Spooner, causing some turnovers and breaking up the Penguins flow on the power play.

The PBruins got off to a slow start but got to their quick transition style game in the second half of the opening frame, out shooting the Penguins 8-4 in a scoreless first period.

The Penguins had the jump early on in the second period and took a 1-0 lead after a puck handling gaffe by Svedberg 7:14 into the middle frame. Chuck Kobasew capitalized on the turnover and tallied his 5th of the playoffs to put the Penguins in front.

A late roughing penalty to Harrison Ruopp gave the PBruins some life and a Seth Griffith shot through traffic on the ensuing power play evened the score at 1-1.

The Bruins weren't done there, either, as former Penguin Joe Morrow pinched in the offensive zone and caught several Penguin defenders watching the play as he skated in and slipped a backhander past Mannino with 1:24 left to pull the Bruins in front 2-1 heading into the third period.

The Bruins kept the momentum going early in third period as a Blake Parlett goal 15 seconds into the final frame to extend their lead to 3-1, forcing the Penguins to take their timeout to settle things down.

The timeout didn't work, as Alexander Khokhlachev fired one past Mannino 51 seconds later to open up the game in favor of the Bruins at 4-1.

But the game wasn't over there. Team captain Tom Kostopoulos got the Pens within two after a power play re-direct of a Brendan Mikkelson shot 7:37 into the third period and you had a feeling that a momentum surge the Penguins way could make a game of it.

That's exactly what happened as Simon Despres waited off a sliding defender and beat a screened Svedberg, followed up less than two minutes later by Conor Sheary's second goal of the postseason. Tie game. Three unanswered goals by the Penguins forced overtime.

The Penguins came out flying in the first overtime but had to stave off some serious pressure late in the first extra session, including a Kostopoulos slashing penalty with 44 seconds left, just to get it to the second OT.

Adam Payerl had two good chances to end it, one a shorthanded breakaway and the second a one-timer, but was robbed and had his stick break (in that order) to keep the game at 4-4 until Despres' heroics at the 6:32 mark.

Zolnierczyk's initial shot was stopped by Svedberg, but Brendan Mikkelson spotted an open Despres at the half wall on the far side and got the puck over to him before Svedberg could slide across the crease to challenge his shot. Game Three to the Penguins, a 2-1 series lead and guarantee themselves at least one more home game this postseason.


Peter Mannino got the start in net and was backed up by Matt Murray.

One lineup change from Game Two as Scott Harrington (day-to-day, lower body) missed his first game of the 2013-14 campaign. Harrington had appeared in all 76 regular season games and the first six playoff games this year.

In his place, Harrison Ruopp made his AHL playoff debut on the third pairing with Barry Goers. Brian Dumoulin moved up to the 2nd pair with Brendan Mikkelson.

No changes up front from Game Two for WBS Penguins.






Robert Clarke said...

Thanks for the updates Tony! Great stuff as usual

nancy john said...

Thank you! Our kids are having fun and learning new things . This looks like so much fun for them.

lessons for kids

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