WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 5, CHICAGO 1
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. … After falling behind 1-0, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton responded with five straight goals en route to a 5-1 win over Chicago on Saturday at the Wachovia Arena in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.
The Penguins saved their season for the second time in as many nights and became the first team in AHL history to force a Game 6 in the championship round after falling into a 3-0 hole. The Wolves now lead the series, 3-2.
After a spirited but scoreless first period, the Wolves finally broke the deadlock at 11:20 of the middle stanza. Jordan LaVallee’s shot from the right circle deflected off a defender’s skate to the slot, where rookie Bryan Little backhanded it in.
The Pens came right back with two goals in a 2:01 span to take a 2-1 lead. Just 1:15 after Little’s goal, Tim Wallace skated all the way down to the left of Chicago goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and sent a pass through the slot to a wide-open Dave Gove, who buried his second goal in as many nights.
Connor James then tallied his eighth goal of the playoffs at 14:36, giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the lead for good. Mark Ardelan extended the advantage to 3-1 at the 19:29 mark, putting in the rebound of a Nathan Smith shot down low.
Luca Caputi and Ben Lovejoy added third-period markers to pad the Pens’ lead. Caputi’s goal came on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first shot of the stanza, after the Wolves had taken the first seven.
Penguins rookie goaltender John Curry set a personal playoff high with 33 saves in the victory, improving his postseason record to 14-8 (2.73, .901).
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improved to 4-0 this postseason when facing elimination, with all four victories coming at home.
Prior to this year, 20 teams had fallen into a 3-0 series deficit in the Calder Cup Finals, and none had extended it beyond Game 5.
The series now shifts back to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. After a pair of days off, the teams will suit up for Game 6 on Tuesday evening.