Penguins Come Up Short In St. John's

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Penguins see a team celebrate an Eastern Conference Championship for a second straight season. Photo credit: @dwancherry.
The St. John's IceCaps are going to the Calder Cup Finals following a 5-0 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the end, the IceCaps capitalized on their opportunities and the Penguins didn't.

Early in the first period with the game scoreless, the Penguins got a four-minute power play. They didn't capitalize on the man advantage and let another early power play go by the wayside before the IceCaps scored a goal of their own with their first man advantage of the night.

In all, the Penguins went 0-for-5 on the power play tonight while going a combined 0-for-32 with the man advantage in the six game series. Credit to the IceCaps penalty killers and goaltender Michael Hutchinson, as special teams usually set the difference between advancing and going home in the postseason.

For the second straight season, the Penguins made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and for the second straight year they watched their opponent celebrate a Conference Championship. Certainly a tough way to end the season, but a lot of players on the team gained valuable pro experience and have a lot to build from heading into summer camps, training camp and next season.

The Penguins season might be done, but really a writer's season is never over. I have plenty of reading material coming your way and will have a post sometime tomorrow to sort of outline what the future holds as far as summer content on Highland Park Hockey holds.

Just like in Games Three, Four and Five when the Penguins came out with the edge in play to start in their home building, the IceCaps were flying out of the gate tonight in Game Six at the Mile One Centre in the first four and a half minutes, until they got into some penalty trouble.

A double-minor highstick on Kael Mouillierat 4:42 in gave the Pens a glorious chance to turn the tides and get on the board early. The Penguins didn't manage much more than a shot or two on the four-minute power play, passing up an early opportunity to open the scoring.

The Pens got another power play chance a few minutes later - their third in the first 9:30 of the period - when Patrice Cormier roughed up Bobby Farnham in the corner of the Pens' offensive zone. The Pens again let a power play go by the wayside, going 0-for-3 with the man advantage to that point and 0-for-30 in the series through the first five games and a period of Game Six.

A Brian Dumoulin turnover in the defensive zone led to a Simon Despres holding minor, sending the IceCaps to their first power play of the night late in the first period. 

Unlike the Penguins, the IceCaps made the most of their first man advantage after a failed clear attempt by the WBS PK. Brenden Kitchon found Eric O'Dell with a slap-pass from the point and O'Dell tipped one past Penguins goaltender Peter Mannino with 2:07 left in the first period to put the IceCaps out in front 1-0.

The IceCaps extended their lead to 2-0 3:24 into the middle frame as a bit of a miscue in coverage by the Penguins in their defensive zone left Adam Lowry all alone in front of Mannino. Credit Josh Morrissey with a pinpoint accurate pass in front to Lowry, who tapped one in past Mannino to put the IceCaps in front by two.

From there, things opened up a bit and the teams traded chances. Mannino made several saves to keep the game within reach, and Hutchinson made some key saves to keep his team in front heading into the third period.

In the third, the Penguins simply ran out of time and couldn't beat Hutchinson, who finished with a 34-save shutout. They got behind early and two goals in the first 5:21 of the third period pushed the deficit to four goals and it unraveled from there. IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray put the icing on the cake with a late empty net goal to end the Penguins season in the Conference Finals for the second straight season.


Peter Mannino got the start in net with Matt Murray backing him up between the pipes.

No lineup changes for the Penguins in Game Six.

Reid McNeill skated Monday in a red, no-contact jersey and even took the morning skate in a regular jersey, but did not make his return to the WBS lineup

Scratches for the Penguins: Eric Hartzell, Jeff Deslauriers, Reid McNeill, Nick D'Agostino, Harrison Ruopp, Nick Drazenovic, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney, Dominik Uher, Adam Payerl, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson and Josh Archibald.


Gibbons - Ebbett - Kobasew
Zlobin - Megna - Kostopoulos
Sheary - Carman - Machacek
Zolnierczyk - Sill - Farnham

Dumoulin - Despres
Samuelsson - Mikkelson
Harrington - Goers

Mannino - Murray


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