The St. John’s IceCaps closed in on their first trip to the Calder Cup Finals with a 2-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Thursday night.
With their third straight win — and second in a row on the road — the IceCaps took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals. Game 5 is set for Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.
After a scoreless first period, Wilkes-Barre ran into penalty troubles in the second. The Penguins nearly escaped unscathed but Will O’Neill finally cashed in with 26.1 seconds remaining during a 5-on-3 IceCaps advantage, his first goal of the postseason.
St. John’s outshot the Penguins 19-2 in the second period.
The Penguins tied it up at 6:48 of the third period as Brian Dumoulin‘s shot from the point was heading wide until it hit the skate of IceCaps defenseman Brenden Kichton and went in the net, ending Wilkes-Barre’s scoreless streak at 107 minutes, 52 seconds.
But a Brendan Mikkelson penalty a minute later sent St. John’s back to the power play and Josh Lunden picked up the rebound of a Jason Jaffray shot and converted on a wraparound to put the IceCaps back in front for good, 2-1.
Michael Hutchinson (10-4) stopped 17 of 18 shots on the night, allowing no more than one goal for the eighth time in 14 playoff starts.
Peter Mannino (8-7) made 29 saves for the Penguins.
St. John’s was 2-for-9 on the power play and is now 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) in the last two games. Wilkes-Barre was 0-for-6 and is now 0-for-20 in the series.
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins | Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Sat., May 24 – W-B/Scranton 3, ST. JOHN’S 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 25 – ST. JOHN’S 2, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 28 – St. John’s 5, W-B/SCRANTON 0
Game 4 – Thu., May 29 – St. John’s 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1
Game 5 – Sat., May 31 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Tue., June 3 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 4 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern