Wednesday, April 27, 2011
MAINEIACS PUSHED TO THE BRINK
FINAL: Sea Dogs 5, MAINEiacs 2
LEWISTON, Me. – The Saint John Sea Dogs are one win away from returning to the President’s Cup Finals.
The Sea Dogs took a commanding 3-0 series lead following a 5-2 victory in Game Three of their semifinal playoff series against the Lewiston Maineiacs. Game Four, which could be the final match of the series, is Wednesday night at 8:00 pm at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
It was a hard fought, intense match that saw Sea Dogs capitalize on their chances when they had them. After a scoreless opening frame, Saint John jumped out to 3-0 and 4-1 leads in the second period. Lewiston put up a good battle in the third period but the Dogs would hang on for the victory.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Jurco, Ryan Tesink, Mike Thomas, and Stanislav Galiev all scored for the winners. Zack Phillips added three assists.
Goaltender Mathieu Corbeil – making his second straight start and third of the playoffs – was terrific in goal once again. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect stopped 28-of-30 shots he faced and kept the momentum going in the Sea Dogs’ favour at key points during the game.
Lewiston had goals from Kirill Kabanov and Christophe Lalonde. Nicholas Champion allowed four goals on 22 shots before getting replaced by Andrey Makarov to start the third period. Makarov stopped all seven shots he faced.
Once again, the Maineiacs kept the game close and outplayed the Sea Dogs at times throughout the contest. But when Lewiston has given Saint John opportunities in this series, they have been able to convert on them.
Things got off to a rough start for Saint John as Simon Despres went down and stayed down for a few moments just seconds in. He went to the dressing room and missed part of the period but would return before it expired.
Scott Oke created some pressure early in the frame as he centered the puck for a streaking Zack Phillips but he was unable to grab the puck. Matthew Bissonnette then had a great opportunity for the Maineiacs as he caught the Dogs on a line change and had a partial break. He dropped the puck for Christophe Lalonde but he sailed a wrister wide of the cage.
Lewiston went to the power play at 5:39 as Danick Gauthier headed off for hooking. Early in the man advantage, the Maineiacs tried to jam the disc past a down Mathieu Corbeil but were unable to do so.
With Gauthier now out of the box, Nathan Beaulieu belted a point shot that was stopped nicely by Lewiston ‘tender Nicholas Champion. Then, Lalonde had another chance in close but was denied hy the pad of Corbeil.
Some four-on-four action took place at 10:28. During that time, Kirill Kabanov went into thrill mode and had a few great chances down low. But Corbeil was dialed in, using his pads to keep the puck out.
Back at even strength, Phillips sent the puck wide but it bounced off the backboards and went right to Jonathan Huberdeau. He sent a backdoor shot on net but Champion kept it out with his pad. Then, Phillips was at it again as he got past a couple of Maineiacs defenders but was stopped by Champion.
Both teams had their chances in the opening frame and shots were even at 10 apiece.
Stanislav Galiev created a great chance early on as he sent the puck through the crease to Tomas Jurco but was denied by Champion.
Saint John went to the power play at 1:27. On the ensuing man advantage at 1:56, Michael Kirkpatrick had the puck behind the net and sent a perfect pass to Jonathan Huberdeau in front who beat Champion to make it 1-0 Sea Dogs.
Lalonde had another chance for Lewiston moments later in some traffic but Corbeil was there to keep it out.
The Dogs made it a 2-0 game at 3:14. A massive turnover at the dot by the Maineiacs allowed Jurco to go in all alone. He made some nice stick moves and slid the puck past Champion to double Saint John’s lead.
Simon Despres headed to the box at 4:05 for hooking but the Maineiacs couldn’t get anything going on the man advantage.
Ryan Tesink then hit the post with Despres out of the box. But at 7:01, Tesink would be a bit more accurate with his shot. Huberdeau shoveled the puck out of some players in the slot and skated to the side. He backhanded it to Tesink in front who made it a 3-0 game.
Corbeil had to make a quick save following the goal but he was up to the challenge and kept it out. Then while the Maineiacs were shorthanded, Antoine Houde-Caron had a breakaway but was stopped by the pad of Corbeil.
Just after the stop, Eric Gelinas was drilled into the boards by Etienne Brodeur and the Dogs went back to the power play. Huberdeau had a great chance during the time span as the puck came off the backboards but he sent it through the crease.
Despres was called for roughing at 10:13 with Brodeur still in the box. At 11:23, Kabanov kept his hot streak going by netting his eighth of the playoffs and making it a two-goal game.
A rare semifinal fight took place at 12:51 between Samuel Finn and Danick Gauthier behind the Sea Dogs net. Both players landed some big blows in the short tilt.
The Sea Dogs had yet another power play 14:42 with Lalonde in the box but they couldn’t get anything working.
At 18:26, Champion couldn’t control the puck and it squirted out in front of him. Mike Thomas was there to beat the Lewiston netminder five-hole and restore Saint John’s three-goal lead heading into intermission.
Shots in the middle frame were 12-12.
Goaltender Andrey Makarov started the second period in net for Lewiston.
The Maineiacs gave their new netminder some support just 23 seconds in as they made it a 4-2 game. Pierre-Olivier Morin fed Lalonde in front who tipped it past Corbeil to get the home team within two.
Lewiston had another great chance moments later but Corbeil made a stop with the glove.
The Maineiacs went to the power play at 3:33 as Gelinas headed off for holding. Kabanov had an opportunity on the man advantage but Corbeil made a cross crease stop to keep it out.
After Lewiston failed to connect on yet another power play, Stephen MacAulay had breakaway but was hooked up by Samuel Carrier in his attempt, sending the Dogs to the man advantage. The Dogs had some pressure but couldn’t much going otherwise.
At 11:11, Gauthier tripped Olivier Dame-Malka who would head to the dressing room with an apparent injury. While shorthanded, Thomas was taken down while coming down the wing but no call was made. Then, MacAulay had a partial breakaway but was denied by Makarov’s shoulder.
With the power play over, Lewiston’s last great chance of the game came when Alex Zafiris let a shot go through some traffic but was stopped by Corbeil.
The Maineiacs pulled Makarov in the dying minutes in exchange for the extra attacker. But it wouldn’t have any effect as Phillips fed Galiev for the empty net marker at 18:15 to seal the deal.
Shots in the third period were 8-8.
NOTES: See Sea Dogs Postscript tomorrow on SN.
NEXT GAME: Game Four of the best-of-seven series goes tomorrow night at 8:00 pm at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.