Six unanswered goals, including two each by Jeff Carter and Jon Sim, led Philadelphia to a 7-4 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night and gave the Phantoms a berth in the Eastern Conference final.
Philadelphia scored a half-dozen times in the final 11:23 of the game to claim the East Division playoff title with a four-games-to-one series victory.
All signs pointed to a Game 6 in Wilkes-Barre tomorrow night, as Tomas Surovy scored two goals and added two assists to stake the Penguins to a 4-1 lead in the third period.
Josh Gratton started the stirring comeback at the 8:37 mark of the third period. Carter scored on a power play at 11:45 to make it 4-3, and Sim tied the score just 1:04 later.
But the Phantoms weren’t done, as Ryan Ready gave Philadelphia the lead with 6:04 to play. Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Andy Chiodo, but the bleeding didn’t stop, as Carter netted his ninth playoff goal at 17:20, and Sim finished it off with an empty-netter at 19:56.
Ready finished with a goal and two assists, Patrick Sharp had two assists and Antero Niittymaki made 20 saves for Philadelphia, which will open the Eastern Conference final at the Wachovia Center next Friday night against either Lowell or Providence.
Neil Little stopped both shots he faced in just over 13 minutes of work in the third period, but it was enough to be credited with the victory in his first playoff action since 2002.
MANITOBA 5, ROCHESTER 2
A record-setting season came to a crashing end as Rochester dropped a 5-2 decision to Manitoba on Friday night, giving the Moose a 4-1 win in the North Division final and a berth in the Western Conference championship series.
Josh Green scored three times in the second period for Manitoba, which won four straight after dropping Game 1.
The Amerks had won 51 games and set a franchise record with 112 points in the regular season, then swept Hamilton in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Lee Goren added his ninth goal of the postseason for the Moose, who will face Chicago for the right to play for the Calder Cup.
Paul Gaustad and David Cullen had a goal and an assist each for Rochester, which was outshot 28-18 on the night.
Attendance was a capacity crowd of 15,015 at the MTS Centre, where the Moose improved to 6-0 in the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs. It was the fifth-largest crowd ever for an AHL postseason game.
CHICAGO 4, CINCINNATI 1
Joe Corvo and Brad Larsen scored power-play goals in the third period to lead Chicago a 4-1 win over Cincinnati on Friday, sending the Wolves to the Western Conference final against Manitoba.
Game 1 between the Moose and Wolves will be Thursday night at Allstate Arena.
With Chicago down 1-0 heading into the third period, Corvo tied the game at the 7:08, and Larsen netted the game-winner with 3:47 to play in regulation. Cory Larose and Derek MacKenzie added insurance markers into an empty net in the final minute.
Curtis Glencross scored a shorthanded goal for the Mighty Ducks’ only offense on the night.
Chicago won the series, four games to one, and is now 8-2 in 10 postseason games this spring.
PROVIDENCE 3, LOWELL 2 (OT)
Keith Aucoin scored 9:22 into overtime on Friday to give Providence a 3-2 win over Lowell and a 3-1 lead in the Atlantic Division final.
Pat Leahy and Brad Boyes also scored for the Bruins, who can advance to the conference final with a win on home ice in Game 5 on Saturday.
Colin Forbes scored both goals for the Lock Monsters, both on assists from Chuck Kobasew and Eric Staal.