Neal sends Springfield home with 3-2 series lead

Photo: Vitor Munhoz

A night after surrendering a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4, the Springfield Thunderbirds returned the favor and will return home one victory away from the Calder Cup Finals.

James Neal scored at 18:35 of overtime to lift Springfield to a 3-2 win in Game 5 at Place Bell on Saturday. The Thunderbirds will host Game 6 on Monday with a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

At the end of a long sequence in the offensive zone, Neal took a pass from Matthew Peca and snapped home a shot from the bottom of the right-wing circle for his second game-winner of the postseason.

Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, Springfield got on the board when Nathan Todd scored at the 16:03 mark, and tied the game with 4:24 left in regulation on Dakota Joshua’s fifth goal of the playoffs.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored both Rocket goals in Game 5, his fourth and fifth goals of the series.

Charlie Lindgren (3-1) made 25 saves in the victory for Springfield. Cayden Primeau (8-4) turned aside 44 shots for Laval, setting a career high for the second night in a row.

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 1 – Sat., June 4 – SPRINGFIELD 2, Laval 1 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., June 5 – Laval 4, SPRINGFIELD 2
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Springfield 6, LAVAL 3
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – LAVAL 3, Springfield 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Springfield 3, LAVAL 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Mon., June 13 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern