CHARLOTTE 5, HERSHEY 3
Staring at the prospect of a 3-2 series deficit with the final two games to be played in Hershey, Charlotte roared back from a 3-0 deficit with five unanswered goals – including four in the third period – to claim a stunning 5-3 win over the Bears in Game 5 of the teams’ East Division semifinal on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Instead of being down 3-2, it’s the Checkers who hold a 3-2 series lead and need just one more victory to send the two-time defending Calder Cup champions home for the summer.
Game 6 is set for Sunday evening at the Giant Center in Hershey, with the Bears needing a win to force Game 7 on Monday.
Hershey began quickly in this one, as Steve Pinizzotto made it 1-0 just 3:06 after the opening face-off. Mathieu Perreault (1:49) and Andrew Carroll (12:57) tacked on second-period markers, with Carroll recording his first-ever AHL postseason goal.
Checkers forward Brett Sutter began his club’s comeback in the second frame’s closing minutes, but the real rally was still to come.
Former first-round draft pick Zach Boychuk cut Charlotte’s deficit to 3-2 on the power play only 60 seconds into the third period, and ex-Bear Oskar Osala made it 3-3 less than five minutes later. Nick Dodge then scored the eventual game-winner at the 11:24 mark, and Drayson Bowman added a late empty-netter.
When it was still a 4-3 Checkers lead, Hershey failed to convert on a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in an attempt to get the equalizer. The Bears went 0-for-7 on the man advantage and are just 1-for-24 (4.2 percent) in the playoffs.
Osala (1-2-3) and Bowman (1-2-3) each had three points in the winning effort; Boychuk (1-1-2) and Sutter (1-1-2) posted two points apiece; and Checkers goaltender Mike Murphy stopped 32 of 35 shots in net.
BINGHAMTON 2, MANCHESTER 1 (2OT)
Defenseman Geoff Kinrade converted a wraparound chance at 10:01 of the second overtime period, ending the suspense and giving Binghamton a thrilling 2-1 road win over Manchester in Game 6 of this Atlantic Division semifinal. The B-Sens have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to even it at three games apiece.
The Senators and Monarchs will reconvene at Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night for Game 7, with a berth in the Atlantic Division Finals on the line.
It marked the first career playoff goal for Kinrade, a second-year pro who has totaled 13 tallies (13-39-52) in 154 regular-season tilts with Binghamton over the past two campaigns. Erik Condra and Jim O’Brien picked up helpers on the play.
B-Sens rookie goaltender Robin Lehner came up huge between the pipes, finishing with 51 saves on 52 shots to earn his second consecutive victory.
Justin Azevedo gave Manchester a 1-0 lead midway through the second period, but Senators rookie Bobby Butler answered with his third goal of the playoffs at 10:26 of the third frame. O’Brien and Condra also helped out on that marker.
Both overtime sessions featured terrific chances for each team, as Binghamton’s top-rated regular-season power play was denied on an opportunity late in the first extra period.
Then, Manchester’s Bud Holloway, who shows a team-high nine points (3-4-9) in the postseason, had the series on his stick with a penalty-shot attempt at 4:55 of the second overtime but was denied by Lehner. A little more than five minutes later, the B-Sens skated off victorious.
Binghamton has now collected all three of its victories in the series via overtime.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2, NORFOLK 1
Rookie Nick Petersen tallied a pair of power play goals in the first period, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton completed an impressive turnabout on the road with a 2-1 win over Norfolk on Friday at the Scope.
The AHL regular-season champion Penguins, who dropped the first two games of this East Division semifinal on home ice, bounced back to win all three tilts in Virginia and now return to Wilkes-Barre needing just one more victory to eliminate the Admirals.
Petersen, who produced 5-9-14 in 23 regular-season contests down the stretch, nabbed his first two career AHL playoff goals. Counting the regular year, four of his seven AHL tallies overall have come on the man-advantage.
Norfolk cut its deficit in half on a third-period power play of its own, off the stick of defenseman Mark Barberio with 11:15 left in regulation. But Wilkes-Barre goaltender Brad Thiessen held strong from there and totaled 23 saves in the winning effort.
HAMILTON 2, OKLAHOMA CITY 0
Hamilton scored once apiece in the first and second periods and shut Oklahoma City down to take control of its North Division semifinal courtesy of a 2-0 road win over the Barons at the Cox Convention Center on Friday.
The Bulldogs now head back to Copps Coliseum needing just one win in the final two home games in order to move on to the North Division Finals. Hamilton was in the same position in last year’s conference finals, but lost both contests to Texas.
Aaron Palushaj, who did not play in Game 4 of this series on Wednesday, netted a first-period power play goal for the Bulldogs. Nigel Dawes provided insurance late in the second frame with his first marker in the three games since the series shifted to Oklahoma City.
Palushaj and Dawes assisted on each other’s goals to finish with multiple points on the night. Dustin Boyd garnered a helper on both markers.
Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre bounced back from a 5-2 loss in Game 4 to post a 20-save shutout in this one. Seventeen of his 20 stops came over the final 40 minutes of play.
The Barons were blanked for the first time since a 4-0 loss at Chicago on Mar. 20.
Game 6 of the series is set for Sunday in Hamilton. A Barons victory would force Game 7 on Monday.
MANITOBA 2, LAKE ERIE 0
Manitoba broke through for a pair of third-period goals and kept its season alive with a 2-0 win over visiting Lake Erie on Friday in front of 7,355 fans at the MTS Centre.
Lake Erie’s series lead is now down to 3-2 as the teams head back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. If necessary, Game 7 would be played on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Looking to stave off elimination, Manitoba came out like gangbusters and outshot the Monsters by an 18-6 count in the first period, but neither team produced a goal. The same held true in a second period which featured only 13 combined shots (8-5 for the Monsters).
Two-time AHL All-Star forward Sergei Shirokov finally snapped the deadlock at 6:35 of the third frame, and the Moose forward’s third goal of the postseason was assisted by Jason Jaffray and Marco Rosa.
Lake Erie poured 12 shots on goal in the period looking for the equalizer, but AHL All-Rookie goaltender Eddie Lack stood tall. Jaffray iced the game with a late empty-netter, and Rosa earned another helper for his team-leading ninth point of the playoffs (3-6-9).
Lack, re-inserted between the pipes after Tyler Weiman had started the previous three contests, made 26 saves for his first career postseason shutout.
Prior to Friday, Lake Erie had not been blanked since suffering a 3-0 loss at Houston back on Jan. 7.
MILWAUKEE 2, TEXAS 1 (OT)
Forward Ryan Thang blasted home a shot from the right face-off circle at 16:29 of overtime, sending Milwaukee to a dramatic 2-1 road win over Texas on Friday at the Cedar Park Center.
The Admirals, who trailed the game 1-0 until rookie Gabriel Bourque tied it up with five seconds left in regulation, now take a 3-2 series lead back to the Bradley Center for Game 6 on Monday night.
The Stars nursed that slim 1-0 lead through the remainder of the game and were poised for the regulation victory before Bourque’s late heroics. The 20-year-old Bourque has now registered five goals (5-4-9) in five postseason contests after posting 18 goals (18-18-36) in 78 regular-season outings.
Milwaukee rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith was stellar in net, finishing with 40 saves on 41 shots to backstop the Admirals to the win.
Combined with Hershey’s 5-3 loss to Charlotte on Friday, both of the AHL’s 2010 Calder Cup finalists are now facing 3-2 series deficits in the first round of the 2011 postseason.