Zach O’Brien scored 4:13 into the third overtime period as Manchester outlasted Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-3, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Wednesday night.
The Monarchs and Penguins drop the puck for Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, less than 20 hours after their series-opening marathon.
On the winning goal, David Van der Gulik entered the offensive zone and found an open O’Brien on the right wing. O’Brien fired a shot stick side past Matt Murray to end the second-longest game in both clubs’ franchise history.
Well before they went scoreless for more than 43 minutes of sudden-death overtime, the Monarchs and Penguins, who sported the top two defenses in the AHL in the regular season, combined for four goals in the opening period.
Manchester needed just 18 seconds to get the first goal of the series, a Nick Shore tally that was the fifth goal scored by the Monarchs within the first three minutes of a game this postseason.
The Penguins tied it at 3:34 of the first when Kasperi Kapanen sent a pass from the bottom of the left-wing circle all the way back to the right point, where Taylor Chorney wristed a long shot past Jean-Francois Berube for his first goal of the playoffs.
Brian O’Neill put Manchester ahead 2-1 at 10:49, putting in a loose puck in front after Jordan Weal‘s attempt went wide across the crease. It was the fourth goal of the playoffs for the regular-season AHL MVP.
The Penguins got a power play late in the first period and converted just six seconds in, as Conor Sheary won the face-off, Derrick Pouliot sent a pass across to the right side and Scott Wilson one-timed a blast home for his second goal of the playoffs at 19:49.
Colin Miller‘s wrister through traffic off a face-off gave Manchester its third lead of the game, 3-2, with 8:10 left in the second period, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tied it up again with 11:41 to go in regulation when Sheary stepped out of the corner to the right of Berube, skated in front and tucked home his third goal of the playoffs.
The rest of regulation and more than two periods of overtime would go by before Manchester finally grabbed the 1-0 series lead.
Berube (4-2) made 40 saves on the night, stopping all 18 shots he faced during overtime. Murray (3-1) finished with 52 saves on 56 shots.
Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – MANCHESTER 4, W-B/Scranton 3 (3OT)
Game 2 – Thu., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 9 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 11 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 12 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 15 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 16 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern