Season on the line for Penguins, Pirates

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.


Game 6 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Portland 3 (OT) (Series tied, 3-3)

Game 5 – CHICAGO 4, Toronto 2 (CHI wins, 4-1)


1. Connor James capped off a two-goal night with the game-winner 20 seconds into overtime as the Penguins rallied for a 4-3 win over Portland in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

2. Darren Haydar tied an AHL record with his 51st career Calder Cup Playoff goal as Chicago clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-2 victory over Toronto.

3. Chris Minard scored twice in the third period to complete Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s rally from a 3-0 deficit en route to forcing Game 7.


Game 7 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (Series tied, 3-3)


Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders


Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)

E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview

Game 1 – Wed., May 14 – W-B/SCRANTON 2, Portland 0

Game 2 – Thu., May 15 – Portland 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2

Game 3 – Sun., May 18 – PORTLAND 5, W-B/Scranton 2

Game 4 – Tue., May 20 – W-B/Scranton 4, PORTLAND 3

Game 5 – Wed., May 21 – PORTLAND 2, W-B/Scranton 1

Game 6 – Fri., May 23 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Portland 3 (OT)

Game 7 – Sat., May 24 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05


Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)

W1-Chicago Wolves vs. N1-Toronto Marlies || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., May 16 – CHICAGO 4, Toronto 1

Game 2 – Sun., May 18 – CHICAGO 5, Toronto 0

Game 3 – Tue., May 20 – Chicago 4, TORONTO 1

Game 4 – Wed., May 21 – TORONTO 6, Chicago 1

Game 5 – Fri., May 23 – CHICAGO 4, Toronto 2


*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):

Game 7 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (Series tied, 3-3)

The Eastern Conference championship comes down to a Game 7 for the fifth time in nine years as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hosts Portland for the Richard F. Canning Trophy at the Wachovia Arena tonight… The Penguins are home for Game 7 thanks to finishing two points better than the Pirates in the regular season… Wilkes-Barre stunned Portland, 4-3, in Game 6 last night, scoring three goals in the final 20:12 of regulation before Connor James’ second goal of the night won it just 20 seconds into the extra session… After the game was scoreless for nearly 34 minutes, Portland took a 3-0 lead with three goals in 5:33Andrew Ebbett scored twice and Geoff Platt once for the Pirates… James got the Penguins on the board with 11.6 seconds left in the second period, and Chris Minard scored twice in the third period, his first two points of the series… Minard and teammate Tim Brent are now tied for the league lead with 10 postseason goals… Nathan Smith registered an assist on James’ overtime winner and leads all Penguins scorers with seven points (3-4-7) in the series against Portland… John Curry made 23 saves in the victory, improving to 11-5 this postseason and 7-2 on home ice… Mike McKenna stopped 22 of 26 shots in the loss and dropped to 0-3 (4.68, .863) in road playoff games, compared to his 2-1 mark (2.35, .910) at home… Bobby Ryan chipped in an assist for Portland and now has points in five straight games (3-5-8) and nine of his last 10 (7-8-15)… The Pirates lost for the first time in the playoffs when taking a lead into the third period (5-1)… Four of the first six games of this series have been scoreless at the first intermission, and the Penguins have not allowed a first-period goal in its last seven contests… This is the fifth Game 7 of the 2008 postseason, matching the all-time league high set in 2006… Wilkes-Barre is 3-0 all-time in Game 7’s while Portland is 1-3… Both clubs are bidding for their third conference championship all-time; the winner of tonight’s game heads to Chicago to open the 2008 Calder Cup Finals on Thursday.


40-31 – Home teams’ record all-time in AHL Game 7’s (.563), including 4-0 this spring and 10-1 since 2006.


14 – Calder Cup Playoff Game 7’s that have gone into overtime… The Penguins are 2-0 in such games, while the Pirates are 0-1.


5 – Consecutive even-numbered years in which the Eastern Conference Finals have gone the full seven games… Game 7 in 2000 (Hartford def. Providence), 2004 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton def. Hartford) and 2006 (Hershey def. Portland) were decided in overtime, while Game 7 in 2002 (Bridgeport def. Hamilton) was scoreless into the 59th minute.




Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice

As Jonathan Filewich lunged forward to get a stick on a puck, hoping to knock it down the ice in the first minutes of overtime Friday night, he caught a black-and-gold blur out of the corner of his right eye. Was it a bird? A plane? No, it was Connor James, there to save the season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. James picked up the puck Filewich nudged, raced past his man down the right wing and fired a shot over goalie Mike McKenna’s right shoulder 20 seconds into overtime to give the Penguins a 4-3 win over the Portland Pirates in Game 6 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference finals at the Wachovia Arena. The teams will play a winner-take-all Game 7 tonight at the arena.



Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

Speed kills. Whether it’s a blistering slap shot from Chris Minard or a race down the ice with Connor James, the faster the better. The former tied the game and the latter won it as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins beat the Portland Pirates 4-3 in overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday. The win saved the Penguins’ season and tied the series at 3-3, with the decisive Game 7 coming at 7:05 p.m. today at Wachovia Arena. “It wasn’t looking great,” said coach Todd Richards on being down 3-0. “But you trust in your players.”



Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald

The Portland Pirates put the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins into a 3-0 hole Friday night, but it wasn’t enough. The Penguins found a way to pull out their third overtime win in the playoffs and even the American Hockey League’s best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals at three games each. Connor James scored his second goal of the game 20 seconds into overtime to lift the Penguins to a 4-3 win. The teams will play the deciding game tonight, with the winner advancing to the Calder Cup finals. “We didn’t play well with the lead,” said Andrew Ebbett, who scored two goals. “We kind of sat back and let them come at us. We’ve got to keep doing what we were doing to get up 3-0 in the first place.”



David Brown, Daily Herald

Their opponent took a stand, but the Chicago Wolves finally made the Toronto Marlies take a seat in the AHL’s Western Conference finals. Responding to a 2-goal deficit and killing a five-minute penalty, the Wolves made good on a second opportunity to advance to the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-2 victory in Game 5 Friday night at the Allstate Arena. “The pressure was on us tonight,” Wolves coach John Anderson said. “We wanted to win so we didn’t have to go back to their building.” The Wolves advanced to their sixth championship berth in franchise history and third Calder Cup Finals since joining the AHL in 2001-02.



Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star

The Toronto Marlies’ stirring run through the American Hockey League playoffs ended last night, but the effect of the club’s successful season will be felt in the Leafs’ organization next fall. Toronto couldn’t stay out of the penalty box again last night and it became a factor in their season-ending, 4-2 loss to Chicago at the Allstate Arena. Chicago erased the Marlies’ 2-0 first-period lead with a pair of power-play goals in the middle period, then killed off a five-minute major in the third, thanks in large part to two miraculous saves from rookie netminder Ondrej Pavelec. Chicago advanced to its second Calder Cup final since 2005, and will face the winner of the Portland-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton series, which goes to Game 7 tonight.


The American Hockey League announced on Wednesday that the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic will take place on Sunday, January 25 and Monday, January 26, at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. Tickets for the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic are priced at $40 and $32, granting admission to both the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 25 at 4:00 p.m. (ET) and the AHL All-Star Game on Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m. (ET). Beginning June 1, season-ticket holders from throughout the AHL will have the opportunity to purchase ticket packages before they go on sale to the general public in October.


Nearly 75 percent of the participants in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals – which get underway tonight in Detroit – are graduates of the American Hockey League, including 11 players and coaches who have taken part in the Calder Cup Finals during their AHL days.


May 24, 2006Bobby Ryan scores his first professional goal and Tim Brent tallies twice as Portland wins Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 5-3 over Hershey.

May 24, 2002Bob Nardella scores with 2.7 seconds left in regulation and Andreas Karlsson follows up 13:58 into overtime as Chicago beats Bridgeport, 5-4, in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

May 24, 1998Martin St. Louis picks up a goal and an assist as the Saint John Flames win the Eastern Conference championship with a 7-3 decision over Hartford.

May 24, 1996Dwayne Roloson stops 31 shots to lead Saint John to a 4-1 win at Portland, evening up their conference final series at two games apiece.

May 24, 1991Michel Picard’s goal six minutes into the third period stands up as the game-winner as Springfield defeats Rochester, 5-3, to capture its second straight Calder Cup championship.

May 24, 1985 – The Sherbrooke Canadiens, led by 19-year-old goaltender Patrick Roy, win the Calder Cup with a 3-1 win over Baltimore.


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