Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored two power-play goals in the first period and held on for a 3-2 victory over Bridgeport in a chippy opener to the teams’ East Division semifinal series at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Luca Caputi’s goal at 10:58 of the second period gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead and proved to be the game-winner after the Sound Tigers stormed back to pull within one on goals by Trevor Smith and Rob Hennigar late in the second period.
John Curry made 15 of his 30 saves in the final frame to preserve the victory and give the Pens a 1-0 series lead heading into Saturday’s Game 2.
Caputi and Dustin Jeffrey, both rookies who made their pro debuts during Wilkes-Barre’s run to the Calder Cup Finals last spring, finished the night with a goal and an assist apiece.
Smith had a goal and an assist for the Sound Tigers and Mike Iggulden notched two assists.
It was the 15th postseason game ever played between the clubs, and the 13th to be decided by a single goal.
Justin Abdelkader scored the tiebreaking goal with 19 seconds gone in the third period to propel Grand Rapids to a 4-3 road win over Hamilton in Game 1 of their North Division semifinal series at Copps Coliseum.
Abdelkader also assisted on Darren Haydar’s goal later in the third for a two-point night in his professional playoff debut. Four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty also had a goal and an assist for the Griffins and Joakim Andersson added his first career AHL tally.
Jimmy Howard finished with 23 saves as Grand Rapids became the fifth team to win Game 1 on the road this postseason.
Game 2 of the series is Saturday evening back in Hamilton.