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IceCaps vs. Crunch: Game One recap — Charlie Lindgren propels St. John’s to 1-0 series lead

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The IceCaps’ top line was making plays and taking names in their first game of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

St. John’s IceCaps

The St. John’s IceCaps fought to the bitter end, working their butts off to grab the final playoff spot for a chance at the 2017 Calder Cup. It came down to the final game of the season. The IceCaps needed a win, and a win they got when they defeated the Toronto Marlies 4-1 on April 15.

Friday night marked the first time a Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate made the post-season appearance in six years.

The IceCaps are up against the Syracuse Crunch in round one. Unlike the NHL playoffs, the AHL iteration is a best-of-five series to start things off. The team started with a home-ice advantage of sorts, at Mile One Centre for the first two games before playing the remaining three in Syracuse.

The key to this series will be discipline. The Crunch were number one in penalty minutes taken this season, and the IceCaps weren’t far behind in fourth.

The IceCaps were quick off the hop early in the first period. With a swift pass from Nikita Scherbak, Charles Hudon found the back of the net, but the goal was promptly waved off. The rulin was incidental contact with the Crunch’s goalie, Mike McKenna, after his skate touched Chris Terry’s causing McKenna to tumble to the ice.

Matt Taormina found himself with some open space and decided to toss the puck at Charlie Lindgren in an attempt to get the first official goal, but the IceCaps’ starter was ready for it with a beautiful glove save.

After Yannick Veilleux’s open-ice elbow on former IceCaps captain Gabriel Dumont, the Crunch headed to their second power play of the period.

After killing off two penalties, the IceCaps finally got their turn at a power play with 4:19 left in the period, and they took full advantage. Scherbak blasted one past McKenna to open the scoring 20 seconds into the power play, opening the scoring for and notching his first ever professional playoff goal.

Syracuse started the second period on their third power play of the night after Terry had taken a slashing penalty with 25 seconds left in the first. But once that penalty-box door swung open, Terry jumped back on the ice and immediately gave his team a two-goal lead.

Adam Erne, on a mini-breakaway, tried to get the Crunch on the board, but Lindgren continued to deny access.

The Crunch finally managed to strike during their fifth power play of the night, when Tye McGinn found a way to slip one past Lindgren halfway through the final period.

With 1:30 left on the clock, McKenna headed to the bench for an extra attacker, but Lindgren continued to stand on his head, stopping every shot that came his way.

A diving block by Zach Redmond allowed Lindgren to make one final save of the night for a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

Three stars

  1. Charlie Lindgren (STJ) - 29/30
  2. Charles Hudon (STJ) - 2 A
  3. Mike McKenna (SYR) - 21/23

The IceCaps were in full playoff mode and it paid off as they lead the series. Game Two takes place tonight at Mile One Center at 7:30 PM NDT (6:00 PM EDT) as the IceCaps attempt to sweep their home portion of round one.