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Penguins rally past Pirates to force Game 7


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4, PORTLAND 3 (OT)

Connor James lit the lamp just 20 seconds into overtime as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton completed a comeback from three goals down to take a 4-3 win over Portland on Friday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Wachovia Arena.

The teams played a scoreless first period for the fourth time in six games this series, but Portland’s offense came to life late in the middle stanza.

Andrew Ebbett and Geoff Platt scored 1:15 apart to stake the Pirates to a 2-0 advantage by the 15:09 mark of the second.

Ebbett scored again with just 33 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-0, but the Penguins’ James then tallied a huge goal with only 11.6 ticks left before intermission, putting his club on the board.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton picked up on that momentum in the third period, and Chris Minard notched a pair of goals to knot the score at 3-3.

Minard pulled the Penguins within one score at 2:55 and tallied the equalizer at 14:17. He hadn’t registered a point in the entire series prior to Friday, last scoring a goal in Game 5 of the division finals against Philadelphia on May 9.

Early in overtime, the Penguins controlled a defensive zone face-off and started moving up ice. James took a pass on the right wing and snapped a high shot past Portland goaltender Mike McKenna’s glove side for the game-winner. Jonathan Filewich and Nathan Smith picked up assists on the decisive tally.

Alex Goligoski chipped in two helpers on the night for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and goaltender John Curry earned the victory with 23 saves.

The Pirates and Penguins will suit back up for Game 7 on Saturday night, with a trip to the 2008 Calder Cup Finals on the line.