Penguins edge Pirates to knot up Eastern Finals


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netted three straight markers and held on to defeat Portland by a 4-3 count on Tuesday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, evening the series at two games apiece.

Deryk Engelland and Nathan Smith each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, and Ben Lovejoy scored his first pro postseason goal in the third period for the game-winner.

Smith gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 2:24 of the first period, with Engelland picking up the lone assist.

The Pirates came back to take a 2-1 advantage by the 13:00 mark of the second, as Andrew Ebbett and Michal Birner each found the back of the net. Birner tallied his first goal since scoring in double-overtime of Game 2 of the division semifinals at Hartford on Apr. 17.

Engelland’s first career Calder Cup Playoff goal re-tied the game for the Penguins just 49 seconds after Birner’s tally, and Connor James put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on top to stay with 25.1 ticks left in the second period.

Lovejoy then scored on the power play 6:20 into the third period to make it 4-2. That goal would prove decisive, as Portland’s Brendan Mikkelson lit the lamp at 17:11 to pull the Pirates within one score.

Dave Gove chipped in two assists for the Penguins, and goaltender John Curry finished with 22 saves to improve to 10-4 this postseason.

Portland lost for the first time in seven home contests this postseason (6-1), and the Pirates also suffered their first defeat of the playoffs in a one-goal game, after winning their first nine such tilts.

The teams will return to the Cumberland County Civic Center ice on Wednesday for the pivotal Game 5.