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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pens big win 5-1; make series 3-2

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins face the Chicago Wolves in a surprise game six at the Allstate Arena Tuesday following a 5-1 victory at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza Saturday night. The Wolves, who lead the American Hockey League championship series 3-2, were unable to put the Penguins down in two tries and must now face them at home.

The Wolves attacked the Penguins goalie John Curry determined to end the series Saturday night. Yet Curry was able to turn the Wolves shots back with astounding ability. It was another night of Penguins defense breaking down, Wolves attacking and Curry being the hero. Curry, who gave up a beautiful goal by the Wolves about mid-way through the first period, held them scoreless for the remainder of the game. Momentum definitively shifted in the third period when only the second Penguin penalty kill of the game failed to gather a Wolves goal. The 5:4 turned into a big Wolves advantage as the two wingers on ice for the Pens broke their sticks, leaving the Wolves facing just Curry and two blue liners.

But Curry was able to stop the Wolves long enough for play to be whistled dead. After that, the flow of the game was all Penguin.

By that time, the game had already been lost in points, although if the Wolves had been able to score, they would have been within two and might have come back.

Following the first goal of the game, a lovely shot by Bryan Little that went in the back door, the Pens responded, putting two in the net within less than three minutes. Wolves Coach John Anderson told Jonathan Bomboulie of the Citizens Voice, Gove’s goal “was a 3-on-3 and we went to pick up the trailer and went to the wrong guy and they banged it in. Great play. Then Connor James comes down about 2,000 mph, made a beautiful shot top shelf and changed the whole complexion.”

Wolves’ goalie Ondrej Pavelec was beaten by going down early on several goals. In the third goal, in particular, Luca Caputi was on a near side breakaway. He was challenged behind by Brian Sipotz. Pavelec not only went down early, he also went to the back of the crease instead of cutting down the angle.

It takes nothing from this big Pens win to note that again on-ice officiating was questionable. Either the Wolves discipline has broken down in the last two games or the referee is just not paying attention to the action in white. Last night saw nine calls against the Wolves and three in their favor.

The win was the first in AHL history; no team has ever been down 3-0 before and forced a game six. No team has ever been down 3-0 and won the championship. However, these Penguins have a history of coming from behind to win. As noted earlier in the series, they do not generally quit when they are down.

The Wolves too, of course, have a come from behind thing going. This is the first time the Wolves have played at home in a championship game that could award the cup since the Calder Cup victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2002. The Cup has been at the games since Friday, ready to be awarded. The Tuesday night game at the Allstate is at 7 P.M. NHL Network and Comcast Cable Sports Network will be broadcasting the game live.

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