CHICAGO 5, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4
Chicago jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead and withstood a persistent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rally to take a 5-4 victory over the Penguins on Thursday in Game 1 of the 2008 Calder Cup Finals at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves took advantage of their first power play opportunity to grab a 1-0 lead 7:15 into the tilt. Jesse Schultz finished a tic-tac-toe passing play in the offensive zone by beating Penguins goaltender John Curry low to the stick side. Darren Haydar and Jason Krog earned the assists.
Kevin Doell extended the lead to 2-0 at 15:06, taking a failed clearing attempt in the slot and sliding it underneath a diving Curry. Less than four minutes later, Doell backhanded a pass from behind the net to LaVallee, who lifted it over Curry to make it a 3-0 game.
Chicago’s Steve Martins was awarded a penalty shot with 30 seconds to go in the opening period, the first such opportunity in a Calder Cup Finals game since 1998. But the veteran’s backhand attempt went high of the net.
The Penguins then tallied a couple of quick goals early in the second to pull within 3-2. AHL All-Rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski lit the lamp at 1:11 and picked up the primary assist on Kurtis McLean’s power play goal at 2:26. Goligoski had a hand in each of his team’s goals on the night to finish with a game-high four points (1-3-4).
Defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski made it 4-2 for Chicago at 10:37 with another power play marker, as his slap shot from the right circle found the top of the net behind Curry. It extended Kwiatkowski’s goal-scoring streak to five games (5-3-8), the longest in the Calder Cup Playoffs since 2003.
The Penguins’ Ryan Stone responded on the power play just 1:31 later, pulling the visitors within a goal again.
Little gave Chicago a 5-3 advantage at 2:42 of the third period, but McLean finished off a series of passes down low by scoring into a wide-open net at 12:08 to once again bring Wilkes-Barre/Scranton within one score.
But the Wolves held on, killing off a late Penguins power play to secure the victory. Chicago rookie goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped 30 of 34 shots in the winning effort. Curry took the loss with 31 saves.
Game 2 of the series is on Sunday at Allstate Arena.