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Penguins push series to limit

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forced a decisive Game 7 as they skated away with a 4-2 win over the St. John’s IceCaps on Friday night at Mile One Centre.

For the fifth time in the six games thus far in the series, the two teams entered the third period in a deadlock. Though the Penguins would be unable to convert on carryover power play time from the second frame, they would notch the game-winner soon thereafter.

Geoff Walker cut out from behind the St. John’s net to the far circle and wheeled a low shot that saw the puck bounce off IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale, hit the leg of Zach Sill and cross the goal line at 5:41. Sill was given credit for his third marker of the postseason.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton received some breathing room with 3:30 left until the final horn as Paul Thompson banked a pass to himself off the boards to race in for a breakaway goal –- a backhander that slipped through the pads of Pasquale.

Skating on their second man-advantage of the opening frame, the Penguins took a 1-0 edge at 9:48 when Jason Williams’ point shot clipped off stick of an IceCaps defenseman and blooped into the net.

The IceCaps found their groove on the power play in the second period to take the lead. Patrice Cormier stationed himself atop the Penguins crease and tipped Paul Postma’s shot from the blueline past goaltender Brad Thiessen at 4:31.

Less than seven minutes later, working 5-on-4, Raymond Sawada flicked in a rebound to make the score 2-1 after Thiessen stopped the first shot by defenseman Derek Meech.

St. John’s would get into some penalty trouble late in the second, giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 4-on-3 power play. Cal O’Reilly gathered a loose rebound from Alex Grant’s slapshot and swept in the tying marker with 8.9 seconds remaining until the intermission.

Thiessen made 29 saves in the contest to up his postseason record to 6-5. Pasquale lost back-to-back games for the first time in the playoffs, turning away 27 of 31 shots.

The Penguins and IceCaps battle in Game 7 on Saturday night (6:00 ET, AHL Live) for the right to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
2-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Tue., May 1 – ST. JOHN’S 3, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 2 – Wed., May 2 – W-B/Scranton 3, ST. JOHN’S 1
Game 3 – Sat., May 5 – St. John’s 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Sun., May 6 – St. John’s 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Tue., May 8 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, St. John’s 2 (2OT)
Game 6 – Fri., May 11 – W-B/Scranton 4, ST. JOHN’S 2
Game 7 – Sat., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00