After his prime chances in overtime and double overtime were denied by an excellent Matt Murray, Zach O’Brien hammered home the game-winning goal in triple overtime off a zone entry and cross-ice feed by David Van der Gulik, and Manchester defeated Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-3 in Game 1 of the clubs’ second round AHL playoff series. Having played for 104 minutes and 13 seconds on Wednesday, the teams will meet again at 7:00 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Game, Date / Time, Home / Away
1 MANCHESTER 4 vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 (3 OT)
2 May 7 / 7 p.m. vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
3 May 9 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
4 May 11 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
5* May 12 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
6* May 15 / 7 p.m. vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
7* May 16 / 7 p.m. vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
I’ll post pictures, video and reactions from the Monarchs’ room tomorrow morning; until then, here are several observations from Game 1, which was watched via AHL TV:
-For the first two or three periods, one of the more interesting stories of the game was Colin Miller’s ability to get pucks through to Murray and generate second chances for his teammates. Miller, who tied Sean Backman and Connor Sheary with a game-high eight shots, blasted a puck on net that Jordan Weal dished across the crease to Brian O’Neill while taking a hit for a tap in goal and also scored from the right point off a faceoff won by Weal directly back to him. In addition to the efforts of Miller, Weal and O’Brien, Nic Dowd also made a lot of little plays in all three zones to calm plays down and create space and opportunities for his teammates, including a near slam-dunk to O’Brien in double overtime that Murray denied with an excellent pad save. He was very good on an important penalty kill late in the first overtime in helping deny and delay the Penguins from entering the offensive zone with any rhythm.
-I’ve generally avoided any evaluation of Adrian Kempe, who is 18 years old and can count the number of games he has played in North America on two hands. But I will say this: Kempe hasn’t looked out of place in any of the games I’ve seen. He nearly ended the game in overtime on a redirect that missed wide at the near post and also produced a strong overtime shift with Nick Shore and Brian O’Neill that ended with a quality Derek Forbort chance from above the right circle. He assisted on Nick Shore’s goal 18 seconds into the game.
-Jonathan Quick and Matt Moulson were on hand to support brother-in-law Sean Backman:
— Erin Collins (@erinmae29) May 7, 2015
-There was a pretty decent tilt between Josh Gratton and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond early in this game, which comes at the outset of what should be a very even and tightly contested series. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton allowed the fewest goals in the league and posted a very good 22-10-3-3 road record, and will benefit from Pittsburgh’s assignments of Derrick Pouliot, Taylor Chorney and Brian Dumoulin following the Penguins’ first round loss to the Rangers. Andrew Ebbett and former King Tom Kostopoulos will also factor into this series, as will 2014 first round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen, who joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in April from Finland and has five points (3-2=5) in four playoff games.
Lines and pairings:
Mersch – Weal – O’Neill
Kempe – Shore – Backman
Van der Gulik – Dowd – O’Brien
Gratton – Crescenzi – Auger
Bodnarchuk – LoVerde
Schultz – Miller
Forbort – Gravel
More news from Manchester will come tomorrow. | GAME SHEET