Flames lose to Pens 6-4, series tied at two games apiece.
By Aaron McCracken
It wasn't a pretty win, but the Wilkes-Barre Penguins will take it. The Pens outlasted the Flames in a 6-4 win to even the best-of-seven Calder Cup final at two games apiece.
The Penguins started the game strong and opened the scoring on their first power play of the game when Michel Rozsival found Chris Kelleher wide open at the side of the net for his 6th of the playoffs. The Flames evened the scored four minutes later when Derrick Walser blasted a shot from the point on a Flames' two-man advantage.
The teams played tentatively throughout the latter part of the first period and the early part of the second period. However the floodgates opened at 8:33 when Greg Crozier walked in from behind the net and pounded a goal past Martin Brochu. Two Flames collided behind the net, which allowed Crozier to pick up the puck and walk in untouched. However the Flames got a break 30 seconds later when Daniel Tkaczuk's shot hit the end boards, bounced in the crease and off Rich Parent's stick for a fluke goal. A minute and a half later, the Flames took the lead when Steve Begin camped out in front of Parent and deflected Tkaczuk's point shot past the Pens' goalie.
With the Flames seemingly in control of the game at this point, Marty Murray took a bad holding penalty in the offensive zone and the Penguins made the Flames pay. Chris Kelleher blasted a shot past Brochu at 11:45 to tie the score. And then things turned ugly. The Pens won the faceoff at centre ice and Trent Cull faked a dump-in and shot the puck on net. Unfortunately, Brochu left the crease to play the dump-in, and couldn't get back in time to stop the 100 foot shot. The Pens' fans went into a frenzy and the Flames were lucky to escape the second period down by just a goal.
Admirably, the Flames took control early in third and Daniel Tkaczuk scored a beautiful goal to tie the game six minutes into the period. Chris Clark's initial shot was stopped by Parent, but Tkaczuk lifted a backhand shot over the outstretched body and glove of the big Pens' keeper to knot the score at four. Jason Botterill almost gave the Flames the lead shortly thereafter when he took two whacks at a Parent rebound, but the Pens were able to clear the puck away.
The Pens took the lead on a power play goal at 11:41 when Toby Petersen beat Brochu from the bottom of the circle with a wicked wrist shot. Steve Montador watched helplessly from the penalty box after being assessed a holding penalty, which eventually cost the Flames the game. Saint John couldn't generate many chances in the final minutes of play, and seemed very disorganized and frustrated by the Pens' defense. They did manage to pull Brochu with over a minute to play, but Wilkes-Barre hit the empty net to ice the game.
Rich Parent made 30 saves for the Pens, although he didn't play a great game. At the other end of the ice, Brochu made only 21 saves on the night, although he can't really be held responsible for the Pens' three power play goals.
Game Five is Friday night in Wilkes-Barre at 8:30 Atlantic time. Regardless of what happens, the Calder Cup will be awarded in Saint John on either Monday night (game six), or Wednesday night (game seven).
News and Notes
Aaron's Three Stars
3. Daniel Tkaczuk
2. Milan Kraft
1. Chris Kelleher
Lines and Roster update
Murray – Varlamov – Botterill
Tkaczuk – Begin -- Clark
Betts – Roche – Fata
Morgan – 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), Doug Doull (undisclosed injury, out), Dany Sabourin (healthy).