Pirates, Penguins advance to Eastern Conference finals

Geoff Platt netted the tie-breaking goal in the third period and Portland held on for a 5-4 road win over Providence on Friday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Game 6 of the Atlantic Division finals.

The Pirates eliminated the AHL regular-season champion Bruins, 4-2, and advance to a meeting with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the Eastern Conference finals.

Platt broke a 3-3 tie at 1:13 of the third period, with Drew Miller and Joe Callahan picking up the assists. Jason King made it a 5-3 game at 6:52 with his second of the game, off a feed from Andrew Ebbett.

The Bruins closed to within a goal at the 13:43 mark, as T.J. Trevelyan netted his fifth goal of the playoffs.

But Pirates goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin held on to record his eighth straight victory, all by one goal. Aubin, who made 30 saves in Friday’s series-clincher, has not lost since Game 1 of the division semifinals at Hartford on Apr. 16.

Miller and Platt each finished with a goal and a helper for the Pirates, and Andy Schneider also lit the lamp. Ebbett had three assists on the evening.

Portland will return to the conference finals for the second time in three years. The Pirates were eliminated in a seventh-game overtime by eventual champion Hershey in 2006, and they missed the postseason altogether in 2007.

Pascal Pelletier notched a goal and a helper for the Bruins, and Nate Thompson, Martins Karsums, and T.J. Trevelyan added a goal apiece.

Chris Minard netted his eighth goal of the playoffs at 12:20 of the second period, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went on to post a 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Friday in front of 6,021 fans at the Wachovia Arena.

The Penguins captured the East Division finals in five games and will return to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton grabbed a 1-0 lead with 46 seconds to go in the first period on rookie Dustin Jeffrey’s second goal in as many games.

Darren Reid knotted it for the Phantoms seven minutes into the middle stanza, with Jonathon Kalinski and Triston Grant picking up the helpers.

Minard’s goal at 12:20 of the second was assisted by Tim Brent and Kurtis McLean. It marked Minard’s third game-winner of this postseason.

Tim Wallace added insurance for the Penguins at 4:01 of the third period, netting his second goal of postseason play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie goaltender John Curry earned the victory with 22 saves on 23 shots, helping the Penguins to their fourth straight win after they dropped Game 1 of the series.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. A3-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Wed., May 14 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Thu., May 15 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Sun., May 18 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 4:05
Game 4 – Tue., May 20 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 7:05
*Game 5 – Wed., May 21 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 23 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sat., May 24 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05