The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins advanced to the East Division Finals last night with a 6-3 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.
The Penguins, who went down two games to none to start the series, finished off the Admirals in six games. They became the 23rd team in American Hockey League history to win a series after losing the first two games. In fact, the Penguins have completed four of these 23 comebacks.
Here is a look back at how the Penguins’ wins played out:
The Penguins cut the series lead in half with a 2-1 victory at the Norfolk Scope and guaranteed a fifth game.
Keven Veilleux scored his second goal of the postseason at 17:58 of the first period to put the Penguins on the board first. However, Norfolk’s Stefano Giliati scored on a power play at 15:40 of the second period to tie the score.
Bryan Lerg gave life to the Penguins’ struggling power play in the third with a goal at 10:20. Goaltender Brad Thiessen earned his first point of the season with the secondary assist.
With Norfolk still holding the series lead, the Penguins had work to do, and they responded.
The Pens won 4-2 to mark the first time all series that one of the teams scored more than three goals in a game.
Wilkes-Barre and Norfolk traded goals in the first and second periods to tie the game at two. Just when it looked like the third period would be starting with a tie, team captain Ryan Craig put in a power-play goal at 18:17 to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead heading into the locker room.
The two teams played a mostly scoreless third period until Joe Vitale, back in the lineup after missing Game 3 for the birth of his first child, added a goal at 15:38.
The win gave the Penguins a 2-2 series tie and set the stage for Game 6 in Wilkes-Barre.
In another tight game, the Penguins pulled out their second 2-1 win of the series.
Nick Petersen put in two first period power-play goals to give the Penguins quick control of the game. Andrew Hutchinson and Brett Sterling assisted on both goals.
After a scoreless second period, Mark Barberio put Norfolk within one with a third period power-play goal of his own at 9:45.
However, it would not be enough, as the Penguins held on for the win and took a 3-2 series lead.
Thiessen earned his third straight win with 23 saves.
Having control of the series gave the Penguins confidence.
Just ask defenseman Steve Wagner.
Wagner became the first defenseman in Penguins history to score a hat trick as the Penguins won 6-3 and eliminated Norfolk. Wagner had a natural hat trick, scoring three straight goals in the first.
The Admirals made things interesting in the second period, getting goals from former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Blair Jones less than two minutes apart. The score was 3-2 after the second, and many began to wonder if the Pens could hold on.
The team put any doubts to rest in the third period.
Vitale put the Penguins up by two at 7:23, but the Admirals continued to push and added a power-play goal from James Wright at 10:35.
In the final minutes, Norfolk pulled netminder Dustin Tokarski for an extra attacker. Tim Wallace added an empty net goal at 18:57. Vitale got an assist for his second point of the night, while Corey Potter got his third assist.
Zach Sill sealed the deal with another empty net goal at 19:21. Thiessen got his second assist of the playoffs, while Brian Strait also got a helper.
The Penguins will play the Charlotte Checkers or the Hershey Bears in the East Division Finals.
Charlotte currently leads the series with Hershey three games to two and could knock off the reigning Calder Cup champions with a win today. Should there be a Game 7, it will be tomorrow night. Both games will be in Hershey.
Regardless of opponent, the Penguins will open the next round at home on Thursday, April 28 and Saturday, April 30.