In a fitting finale to a series between the top two teams in the American Hockey League this season, Andrew Poturalski scored seven minutes into overtime to give the Coachella Valley Firebirds a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Wranglers at Acrisure Arena on Friday night.
The first-year Firebirds advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they will take on either Texas or Milwaukee beginning next week.
A back-and-forth series culminated in a roller-coaster Game 5 that saw five separate one-goal leads get erased in regulation. Calgary tied the game four times before taking its first lead at 5-4 with 6:58 to play, but Coachella Valley answered 71 seconds later to even it back up.
The teams would combine for six goals in the third period, five coming in a span of 6:59.
Poturalski, who returned to the Firebirds lineup on Monday after missing 44 games due to injury, took a pass from Jesper Froden and snapped home the game-winning goal, his first career overtime winner in the postseason. The assist was the third point of the night for Froden, who also scored his first goal since returning from Seattle earlier in the series.
Calgary got goals from Kristians Rubins, Clark Bishop, Nick DeSimone, Jeremie Poirier and Cole Schwindt in Game 5, while Jakob Pelletier notched three assists. Dustin Wolf finished the night with 35 saves.
Coachella Valley joined the 2002 Chicago Wolves as the only teams in AHL history to win three winner-take-all games in a single postseason. The Firebirds are also now 4-0 when facing elimination.
Pacific Division Finals (best-of-5)
P1-Calgary Wranglers vs. P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds
Game 1 – Thu., May 11 – Coachella Valley 6, CALGARY 3 | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., May 12 – CALGARY 3, Coachella Valley 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Mon., May 15 – COACHELLA VALLEY 3, Calgary 2 (3OT) | Recap
Game 4 – Wed., May 17 – Calgary 1, COACHELLA VALLEY 0 | Recap
Game 5 – Fri., May 19 – COACHELLA VALLEY 6, Calgary 5 (OT)