IceCaps take 3-1 series lead in AHL Eastern final
Game 5 is in Pennsylvania on Saturday
Will O'Neill is making a name for himself in the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoffs.
The second-year pro is tied for the league lead with 10 post-season assists. He's playing key minutes for a defence that is allowing fewer than two goals a game.
Just about the only thing missing from his resume was a goal.
O'Neill fixed that in a dramatic way Thursday night, breaking a scoreless tie late in the second period and assisting on the winner in the third as the St. John's Ice Caps won a third straight game in the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 in Game 4 Thursday night.
The IceCaps can advance to the Calder Cup finals with a win in Game 5 on Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.
"It feels nice to get a goal, but it feels great to win," O'Neill said. "We've got a long way ahead of us here, but we'll enjoy it for a little bit."
Josh Lunden also scored for the IceCaps, who went 2 for 9 on the power play.
"I thought we did a good job drawing penalties, getting to the net," O'Neill said. "That's the key to getting to any goalie."
Brian Dumoulin scored a third-period goal for the Penguins, who went scoreless on six power-play opportunities.
"Our power play had some good looks, but at the end of the day, myself and our unit definitely have to put some in the back of the net," Dumoulin said. "It's not just getting chances anymore. We have to score."
The Penguins were called for six minor penalties in the second period, contributing to a massive 19-2 shots advantage for the IceCaps in the period.
Penguins goalie Peter Mannino stopped the first 18 shots he faced, but the 19th was a one-timer from O'Neill from the top of the left faceoff circle that trickled past his pads with 26.1 seconds left in the period.
O'Neill's goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage after centre Zach Sill took a double minor for high-sticking IceCaps winger Andrew Gordon with 1:07 left in the period while the Penguins were already killing a penalty.
"We were getting a lot of chances," O'Neill said. "It was just a matter of time before one went our way. We had a 5-on-3, had good traffic at the net and we buried one."
The Penguins tied the score 1-1 at 6:49 of the third when a Dumoulin shot from the blue-line that looked to be headed well wide of the left post hit defenceman Brenden Kichton and skipped past goalie Michael Hutchinson.
The Penguins took another penalty less than a minute later, however, and St. John's retook the lead with a second power-play goal. Lunden collected the rebound of an O'Neill shot behind the net and wrapped it inside the post with 10:41 left.
"They had some momentum going their way," O'Neill said. "It was good to draw a penalty, get back into it and bury one on the power play."