Five Goals in 5:59 Almost Not Enough to Advance Penguins To Conference Finals

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
It's on to Eastern Conference Finals. Photo credit: @ItsJacki.
They say anything can happen in a playoff Game Seven. How does a 5-0 lead almost blown into a 5-4 nail-biter sound? That's exactly what transpired at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza tonight, but in the end the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hold off a furious third period comeback from the Providence Bruins and hold on for the series win.

The Penguins erupted for five goals in a 5:59 span in the second period to blow open the game and took, what looked at the time to be, a commanding 5-0 lead.

After a late 2nd period shorthanded goal by the PBruins and three goals in a 9:32 span in the third period, it very much became a game again. When Alexander Khokhlachev, the Penguin killer, scored a pair of goals 3:12 apart - one at even strength and one on the man advantage - to make it a 5-4 game, the fans' collective hearts were in their throats. They had witnessed a 5-0 lead turn into a one-goal game with 10:05 left to play.

Credit Peter Mannino for standing tall in the final minutes to help the Penguins hold on for the win. He made several key saves, including a sliding stop going from right to left to rob Seth Griffith in the waning moments to preserve the win.

The Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season and will take on the St. John's IceCaps, with the winner of that series advancing to the 2014 Calder Cup Finals.

Quick look at the series schedule, which starts this Saturday night at Mile One Centre in Newfoundland, Canada:

Game 1 – Sat., May 24 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 p.m. ET
Game 2 – Sun., May 25 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 p.m. ET
Game 3 – Wed., May 28 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Game 4 – Thu., May 29 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET
*Game 5 – Sat., May 31 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET
*Game 6 – Tue., June 3 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 p.m. ET
*Game 7 – Wed., June 4 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 p.m. ET

In a first period eerily similar to Monday night's Game Six, the Penguins out worked and for the most part out played the PBruins.

There was, of course, another disallowed Penguins goal. This time it was because of a Harry Zolnierczyk tripping minor that sent him and a PBruins defenseman on top of a sprawling Niklas Svedberg. The Pens scored on the sequence, but the referee immediately waived it off.

The Pens killed the ensuing penalty and got back to their game - setting up a fore-check and jumping on loose pucks in the offensive zone. They out shot the PBruins 10-3 but Svedberg stood tall and kept the game scoreless after 20 minutes.

In the second period the wheels came off, or at least at the time it appeared that way. What appeared to be a harmless centering pass by Anton Zlobin deflected off the skate of a PBruins defender and in past Svedberg. Jayson Megna added an assist for gathering a center ice turnover and starting the rush up ice.

Sixty-seven seconds later, after a nice display of passing, Conor Sheary netted a power play goal to put the Pens in front 2-0. Sheary extended his points scoring streak to six games with that goal and has been impressive since the day he arrived in the AHL from the University of Massachusetts.

Under two minutes after that, Zolnierczyk stole a puck and left it for a trailing Megna, who sniped one to the top right corner past Svedberg to make it 3-0. The Penguins weren't done there either.

Just 13 seconds later, on what is to this day the most impressive goal I have ever seen in the 15 years of attending games in Wilkes-Barre, Brian Gibbons dekes past one, weaves past two more and puts it through the legs of David Warsofsky on his way to a forehand to backhand goal on Svedberg, ending the PBruins goaltender's night. An unreal individual effort by Gibbons.

Add a Brendan Mikkelson power play blast from the point at 7:16 of the third period and it capped five goals in just under six minutes for the Penguins. A 5-0 lead.

The PBruins got on the board late in the 2nd period on a shorthanded tally by David Warsofsky and it gave them some life heading into the third period.

When Ryan Spooner scored 23 seconds into the third period, you got the sense that if the Penguins didn't get back to their game quickly they were in trouble. The goal made it a 5-2 game and the nervous tension in the building could be cut by a plastic knife.

The Penguins seemed to turn the tides but a pair of Khokhlachev goals made it way more interesting than the home fans would have liked.


Peter Mannino got the start in net for the 11th game of the postseason. Matt Murray was his backup.

Up front, Adam Payerl returned to the WBS lineup. Payerl was in for Bobby Farnham, who was scratched after appearing in Monday's Game Six.

On defense, Reid McNeill was scratched and is out with an upper body injury. Barry Goers, who was scratched for Philip Samuelsson's return on Monday night, slotted back into the WBS lineup for McNeill.


Zolnierczyk - Gibbons - Kobasew
Machacek - Drazenovic - Kostopoulos
Sheary - Megna - Zlobin
Uher - Sill - Payerl

Samuelsson - Despres
Dumoulin - Mikkelson
Harrington - Goers

Mannino - Murray


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