One of the key storylines entering the Atlantic Division semifinals between the Springfield Thunderbirds and the WBS Penguins was how the Penguins would fare against Springfield’s #1 goaltender, Charlie Lindgren, who they had not seen all season. Lindgren showed why he was one of the best goalies in the AHL this season, stopping an amazing 50 of 51 WBS shots to backstop his Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory in Game 1.
FANTASTIC @ThunderbirdsAHL lineup NEWS:— Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithHockey) May 11, 2022
Joshua, Santini, & MacEachern are all IN, + McGing and Kostin return from absences:
Lindy gets Game 1 in net.
The vaunted Springfield power play, converting slightly better than 1 in 5 advantages over the course of the regular season, wasted no time in the franchise’s first playoff game. With Kyle Olson in the box for cross-checking, Will Bitten managed to stuff the puck past Tommy Nappier at 13:27 of the first for a 1-0 lead. Klim Kostin and Nathan Todd picked up assists.
you just got Bitten’d pic.twitter.com/Ehor2CDtyp— x - Springfield Thunderbirds (@ThunderbirdsAHL) May 11, 2022
WBS ended an action-packed first period with a 17-15 shot advantage, but Springfield’s 1-0 lead held up. As if to put a cap on the action, Bitten and Nappier got into a bit of a tussle at the end of the first.
The teams traded goals in the second period. First, just after a power play expired, Felix Robert deflected in a shot from Pierre-Olivier Joseph to tie the game at 1.
Springfield took the lead again at 14:23 of the second period through Kostin’s first goal of the playoffs and second point of the game. The second period ended 2-1, with shots favoring WBS 34-23.
Springfield extended their lead to 3-1 at 8:28 of the third when their two top scorers, Sam Anas and Matthew Peca, broke free on a 2 on 1. Peca fed Anas perfectly, and Anas did not miss. Dakota Joshua, just returned to Springfield from their parent club St. Louis yesterday afternoon, hit an empty netter with 2:38 to go to salt away this Springfield franchise’s first playoff win.
Penguins goaltender Nappier stopped 23 of 26 Springfield shots in the losing effort.
Kostin took third star honors with a goal and an assist. Bitten took second star with a goal and an assist, but this night belonged to Charlie Lindgren and his 50 saves, well deserving of the night’s top honors.
The series continues with Game 2 in Springfield tonight, 7:05 pm EDT start.