SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – In the first-ever playoff game for the Springfield Thunderbirds since they took on the name in 2016, it was a memorable night for goaltender Charlie Lindgren as he made 50 saves on 51 shots and lifted his team to a 4-1 over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 1 of the Atlantic Division semifinals. Klim Kostin’s second-period strike stood up as the winner, and Penguins goaltender Tommy Nappier made 23 saves in the loss. The rematch is Thursday evening before the series shifts to Wilkes-Barre for Game 3.
The Penguins did not look like a team playing its fourth game in six nights as the fourth-seeded team in the Atlantic put 17 shots on goal in each of the three periods, outshooting the home team in each frame including a 17-4 edge in the third. The home team made their shots count, though, starting with Will Bitten scoring with a break off a pass from Kostin to open the scoring. The lone blemish for Lindgren on the night came halfway through the second period when Felix Robert scored his second goal of the postseason to even the count at one. It was the first goal against Lindgren in 150:30 of game action as the goaltender ended the regular season on a pair of clean sheets.
— Corey Swartz (@cswa11) May 11, 2022
Lindgren only seemed to get better after the goal with strong save after strong save. Even after the Thunderbirds went up 3-1, Lindgren and his teammates seemed to have the Penguins’ game from Monday on their minds as they went into a defensive shutdown with nary a rebound to be had for the visitors from northeast Pennsylvania. Sam Anas scored on the rush early in the third, and Dakota Joshua sealed the deal with an empty-net goal. Joshua had barely arrived in Springfield to dress in this game after being assigned from the St. Louis Blues but made a pivotal contribution to the lineup with his size and shot blocking ability, which resulted in the fourth goal.
— Corey Swartz (@cswa11) May 12, 2022
Among players to put up big offensive nights, Bitten and Kostin both finished with a goal and an assist but it would be Lindgren to earn the first star on this night courtesy of the 50 save effort. Both teams would get three chances on the power play, but it would be the Thunderbirds as the only team to tally on the advantage just once. Springfield’s power play ranked atop the Atlantic Division in the regular season at 20.3 percent, and it helped the team despite the disadvantage on the shot count. Lindgren stood on his head in some key chances early on and seemed to eliminate those as the game went on.
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