AHL playoffs: IceCaps, Marlies come up short in Game 5
St. John's loses 4-2 to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while Toronto falls 2-1 to Texas
On a neutral-zone faceoff with about 30 seconds left and the score tied Saturday night, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes tried to make a late personnel change.
Referee Terry Koharski disallowed it, ruling that the change took too long. A checking line, centred by Zach Sill, stayed on the ice and the team's top scoring line remained on the bench.
The Penguins owe Koharski a big thank you.
Sill scored the game-winning goal with 15.8 seconds left in the third period to help the Penguins stave off elimination with a 4-2 victory over the St. John's Ice Caps in Game 5 of the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference final on Saturday night.
"Nobody in this room wanted to stop playing hockey yet," Sill said.
The IceCaps lead the series, 3-2. Game 6 will be played Tuesday in St. John's.
Chuck Kobasew had a pair of goals for the Penguins while Spencer Machacek also scored. Will O'Neill, meanwhile, had a goal and an assist for the second straight game for the IceCaps, who also got a single from Patrice Cormier.
Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves for the IceCaps. Peter Mannino stopped 19 shots for the Penguins.
With the score tied 2-2 in the final minute, Tom Kostopoulos threw a puck into the crease from the right-wing corner. Harry Zolnierczyk kept it alive at the near post and Sill took a shot that banked off the far post, off Hutchinson and in.
"It went off the post and my heart sank for a minute, then it went off his glove and into the net and that was exciting," Sill said.
Kobasew added an empty netter with 6.1 seconds left. He also tied the score 2-2 with 7:30 left in regulation, finishing off a cross-ice pass from Andrew Ebbett at the right faceoff dot at the end of a long offensive-zone shift for the Penguins.
Kobasew, who missed the last two games, and Ebbett, who missed the last 11, were making their return from injury for the Penguins.
"It's good to be back together. We've played a lot together this season," Kobasew said. "Just a good shift by all five guys out there. We were able to hem them in."
O'Neill scored on a 5-on-3 power play to give St. John's a 1-0 lead with 7:33 left in the first period, hitting the top-left corner of the net from the high slot.
The Penguins outshot the IceCaps 8-3 in the first half of the second period and tied the score when Machacek scored on a 3-on-1 break off a scramble in the neutral zone at 3:49.
St. John's retook the lead on their second power-play goal of the game with 5:55 left in the period. Cormier tipped in an O'Neill shot from the blue line to make it 2-1.
"We've played with the lead before. We're pretty comfortable," IceCaps winger Carl Klingberg said. "They came with a strong push. They had their season on the line. They had to go for it and they succeeded. Sometimes they're going to do that."
Texas 2, Toronto 1
Toronto Marlies head coach Steve Spott knows the exact point his team lost Saturday's game to the Texas Stars.
Up 1-0 midway through the second period, the Marlies had a chance to add to their lead with a 1:35 two-man advantage. Instead, they went scoreless on just two shots.
Scott Glennie tied the game 20 seconds after five-on-five play resumed, and Taylor Peters added the winner midway through third to lift the Stars over the Marlies 2-1 for a 3-2 series lead in the American Hockey League's Western Conference final.
"That's the game right there," said Spott. "You've got a (1:35) 5-on-3, you're up 1-0 as soon as you don't get at least momentum off of it you know they're probably going to get a push back shift. They got it and Scott Glennie got a big goal for them.
"Then you could feel the tide turn."
Spencer Abbott scored the lone goal for the Marlies, his fourth of the playoffs and fourth in the last two games. Drew MacIntyre made 31 saves in the loss.
Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 17 shots in the win as the Marlies were out-shot for the 11th time in 12 playoff games.
The Game 5 winner in Calder Cup playoff history has gone on to win the series 81.1 per cent of the time.
Peters poked home the rebound off of Matej Stransky's shot for his first of the playoffs at 9:02 of the third for the winning goal, and Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp made 17 saves in the win.
With Maxime Fortunus off for closing his hand on the puck and Jyrki Jokipakka serving a tripping minor, Toronto's power play, which went 3 for 6 in Game 4 was unable to generate any serious threat.
Glennie beat MacIntyre with a wrist shot for his fourth of the playoffs at 11:10 of the middle frame to tie it 1-1.
"We didn't buy in tonight and that's really frustrating," said MacIntyre. "You could tell right away, but I thought we'd wake up at some point and we just didn't and that's really disappointing.
"We were desperate to win (Game 4) we didn't want to go down 3-1, but I would've thought we have the same desperation tonight, not wanting to go down 3-2, but we're doing it the hard way."
Toronto opened the scoring for a 12th consecutive game as Abbott's centring pass deflected off of Stars centre Chris Mueller and past Nilstorp 41 seconds into the first period.
Trevor Smith nearly made it 2-0 at 3:19 of the opening frame, with Nilstorp down and out, the Marlies captain missed the wide open net.
"We've got our backs against the wall now and we've got nothing to lose," said Smith. "We've got to go out there and play like we've been playing and just string together three periods. We've come out strong in all the games, but we got a little complacent towards the end of the first period."
Spott believes his 12 forwards were out-worked once again by the Stars forward group and as a result, expects lineup changes once again in Game 6.
"The challenge for me is getting our 12 forwards to work as hard as their 12 forwards. If I can get that, we're going to be fine," Spott said. "Our goaltending has been fine, our back end has been fine. We simply don't have enough push back from our 12 forwards right now and we need that going into Texas."