Mark Popovic scored with under 13 seconds left in regulation to give Cincinnati a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of their West Division semifinal playoff series in Milwaukee, sending the Mighty Ducks to a second-round date with the Chicago Wolves.
The Mighty Ducks are the 13th team in AHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. Their Game 7 victory was the first by a road team in the series.
Cincinnati sprinted out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Casey Hankinson, Pierre Parenteau and Kurtis Foster in the first 8:13 of the game.
But Brandon Segal, Darren Haydar and Simon Gamache responded for the Admirals, and the game appeared to be headed for overtime when Popovic’s shot through traffic eluded Brian Finley.
Hankinson finished with a goal and two assists in Game 7 after recording just one assist through the first six games. Foster had a goal and an assist, and Chris Kunitz added two assists.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves on the evening, and won three straight after spelling Frederic Cassivi between the pipes during Game 4.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2, BINGHAMTON 1
Kris Beech and Michel Ouellet scored power-play goals in the third period to lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 2-1 win over Binghamton on Sunday evening, capping an improbable comeback and giving the Penguins a 4-2 series triumph over the division champion Senators.
Ouellet buried the winning goal with 2:44 left in regulation, his second goal of the series.
Andy Chiodo made 30 saves as the Penguins won for the fourth straight game after falling into an 0-2 series hole, becoming the 15th team in AHL history to come back from that deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
Beech finished with a goal and an assist in Game 6 and six points in the series.
The loss brought a stunning and disappointing end to a postseason that held much promise for the Senators, whose roster included league MVP Jason Spezza, All-Rookie forward Brandon Bochenski and stand-out defensemen Brian Pothier and Anton Volchenkov. Not counting shootout losses, this was the Senators’ first four-game losing streak of the season.
Chiodo, who played the final five games of the series after backing up Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 1, held the Senators’ league-leading offense to five goals in 15 periods over the last four contests.
PHILADELPHIA 4, NORFOLK 2
Wilkes-Barre will meet Philadelphia in the East Division final after the Phantoms closed out Norfolk with a 4-2 victory at the Wachovia Center on Sunday evening.
There were more late heroics in Philly, as Mark Murphy, making his first appearance of the series, scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:59 left in regulation. The Phantoms scored three times in the third period after falling behind on a pair of Ajay Baines goals for the Admirals.
Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves for Philadelphia, which ousted Norfolk in the division semifinal round for the second year in a row.
Patrick Sharp, Dennis Seidenberg and Eric Meloche also scored and Boyd Kane registered three assists for the Phantoms, who will host the Penguins on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.