The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins came into Saturday night’s showdown with the Syracuse Crunch in game five of the Eastern Conference Final in need of a win to stay alive, and they did not get it as Syracuse dominated their way to the Calder Cup Final with a 7-0 victory.
The Penguins started Jeff Zatkoff in net, replacing Brad Thiessen who had started the series’ first four contests. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came out strong early in the period, but it was the Crunch who surged to lead later on in the frame. Vladislov Namestnikov cashed in off a Warren Peters turnover with 3:56 remaining in the opening frame to make it 1-0 Crunch. Then just 52 seconds later, Radko Gudas fired home a shot home from the point after a clean face off loss in the defensive zone by the Penguins, making it 2-0 Crunch. Each team failed to convert one power play opportunity in the period, and Syracuse out shot the Pens 11-9 in the frame.
Things did not get any better for the Pens in the middle frame. Just like in the first period, neither team lit the lamp early on, but also like the first, Syracuse got rolling late. Phillipe Paradis converted on a wrap around to make it 3-0 with 6:23 remaining. Just under two minutes later, Dan Sexton capitalized on a Penguin turnover and made it 4-0. With 3:12 remaining Joey Mormina took a high sticking penalty, and Ondrej Palat tipped a puck home on the power play to make it 5-0 Syracuse with 2:02 to go. The Crunch out shot the Pens 15-5 in the second, and 26-14 after two.
The third period would be the Pens last on the 2013 playoff campaign, as Syracuse continued to run away with the scoreboard. Brian Dumoulin fell down, setting up Paradis’ second of the night just 1:02 into the frame to make it 6-0. The game had a chippy side all night long, and that was apparent 4:11 in when Paul Thompson and Dimitry Korobov squared off after Korobov delivered a heavy hit on Brian Gibbons. Paradis capped off the scoring, completing the hat trick 5:43 in, and the Penguins’ season ended with a 7-0 loss.
Zatkoff stopped 22 of 29 before being replaced by Thiessen after the seventh goal, and he turned aside the one shot he faced. The Pens could not solve Cedrick Desjardins, who stopped all 22 shots he faced.
By Andrew Grimm
Special to PensFans4Ever