It may have been the biggest game in the franchise's history, but the
Saint John Flames were up to the task, beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Penguins 4-3 on Friday night. The Flames now own a 3-2 lead in the
Calder Cup finals, and will have a chance to win the championship at
home on Monday night.
Game five wasn't easy for the Flames, but through grit, determination,
and a little bit of luck, the Flames were able to pull through and beat
their nemesis from Pennsylvania. Jason Botterill led the way with a pair
of goals, his first two of the playoffs, while Marty Murray posted three
points. Martin Brochu was solid in net, making approximately 25 saves on
Wilkes-Barre opened the scoring on a power play in the second minute
of play with Sergei Varlamov off on a completely unnecessary roughing
penalty. The Pens were 8-0 in the playoffs when scoring the first goal,
but the Flames didn't seem fazed by the early marker. Daniel Tkaczuk
tied the game at 7:50 of the first with a power play goal of his own,
his 10th of the playoffs.
The momentum changed midway through the period when Steve Begin took a
puck in the face and had to be helped off the ice. The Flames' centre
lost a lot of blood and his return looked doubtful. The Pens controlled
the remainder of the period and were able to score with 0.1 seconds left
on a Martin Sonnenberg tip-in. The Flames argued the goal, but to no
Miraculously, Begin returned the start the 2nd period, and
the Flames came out very strong. Jason Botterill gave Saint John the
lead thirty-six seconds into the period when he slammed a shot past a
fallen Rich Parent. The Flames had several chances to take the lead,
including a Rico Fata breakaway, but Parent made several key saves to
keep the game tied. Finally, with just over a minute remaining, the
Flames were able to bury one of their chances when Parent yielded a fat
rebound to Botterill, who notched his second of the game.
The Flames started the third period tentatively, but were able to
capitalize on a huge Penguins mistake early in the period. Andrew
Ference gave the puck away behind his net to Marty Murray, who then
banked a shot off of Parent to give the Flames a 4-2 lead. However,
Ference made up for his mistake just over a minute later when he blasted
a point shot through traffic that beat a screened Brochu, and put the
Pens back within a goal.
Both teams had huge chances to score midway through the period.
Derrick Walser was responsible for a horrible give-away to Tom
Kostopolous, but Martin Brochu was able to block the shot and hold on to
the rebound. At the other end of the ice, Blair Betts was robbed by Rich
Parent on a breakaway with less than five minutes remaining.
Although the game looked to shaping up for a dramatic finish, it didn't
turn out to be the case. Andrew Ference was called for slashing with
less than 3 minutes to play, and the Pens never really had any chances
to score down the stretch. They did manage to pull Parent with 25
seconds remaining, but the Flames were able to clear the puck and keep
the play in the neutral zone until the horn sounded.
The Flames will try to win their first Calder Cup on Monday night.
The game starts at 7:30 Atlantic time.
News and Notes
Doug Doull returned to action tonight and both teams dressed 18
skaters. Doull played on a line with Royer and Morgan, and the trio
was very effective in a checking role.
Jim Playfair adjusted the lines in the first period, putting Chris
Clark on the first line and dropping Sergei Varlamov to the second
line. Clark was on the ice for all four Flames' goals.
Billy Tibbetts' season is over, as he is ineligible to play in
Canada for games six and seven. The big rookie centre had a strong
performance in his final game of the season, although his temper got
the best of him at times.
The Flames and the Penguins will share the same charter flight to
Saint John on Saturday morning.
Who says the regular season doesn't matter in the AHL? The Flames'
consistent effort throughout the season earned them 100 points, which
gave them home ice advantage over each opponent in the AHL playoffs.
While they haven't needed it so far, it's certainly a big deal now as
they come home leading three games to two.
The Flames are 10-0 when scoring first, and 4-4 when allowing the
first goal. This was the first time that the Penguins scored the first
goal and lost during the playoffs.
The Flames have scored four goals in each game of the Calder Cup
Tkaczuk (Clark, Dupont) PP.
Botterill (Murray, Mrozik)
Murray (Clark, Botterill)
Lines and Roster update
Murray – Varlamov – Clark
Tkaczuk – Begin -- Varlamov
Betts – Roche – Fata
Morgan – Doull -- Royer
Walser – Martin
Montador – Scoville
Mrozik – Dupont
Scratches: Chris St. Croix (healthy), Bobby Russell (healthy), Jeff
Mitchell (healthy), Jamie Ling (healthy), Miika Elomo (out), Kenny
Corupe (out), Dany Sabourin (healthy).