WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- On a neutral-zone faceoff with about 30 seconds left and the score tied Saturday night, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes tried to make a late personnel change.
Referee Terry Koharski disallowed it, ruling that the change took too long. A checking line, centred by Zach Sill, stayed on the ice and the team's top scoring line remained on the bench.
The Penguins owe Koharski a big thank you.
Sill scored the game-winning goal with 15.8 seconds left in the third period to help the Penguins stave off elimination with a 4-2 victory over the St. John's Ice Caps in Game 5 of the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference finals Saturday night.
"Nobody in this room wanted to stop playing hockey yet," Sill said.
The IceCaps lead the series 3-2. Game 6 will be played Tuesday in St. John's, N.L.
Chuck Kobasew had a pair of goals for the Penguins while Spencer Machacek also scored. Will O'Neill, meanwhile, had a goal and an assist for the second straight game for the IceCaps, who also got a single from Patrice Cormier.
Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves for the IceCaps. Peter Mannino stopped 19 shots for the Penguins.
With the score tied 2-2 in the final minute, Tom Kostopoulos threw a puck into the crease from the right-wing corner. Harry Zolnierczyk kept it alive at the near post and Sill took a shot that banked off the far post, off Hutchinson and in.
"It went off the post and my heart sank for a minute, then it went off his glove and into the net and that was exciting," Sill said.
Kobasew added an empty netter with 6.1 seconds left. He also tied the score 2-2 with 7:30 left in regulation, finishing off a cross-ice pass from Andrew Ebbett at the right faceoff dot at the end of a long offensive-zone shift for the Penguins.
Kobasew, who missed the last two games, and Ebbett, who missed the last 11, were making their return from injury for the Penguins.
"It's good to be back together. We've played a lot together this season," Kobasew said. "Just a good shift by all five guys out there. We were able to hem them in."
O'Neill scored on a 5-on-3 power play to give St. John's a 1-0 lead with 7:33 left in the first period, hitting the top-left corner of the net from the high slot.
The Penguins outshot the IceCaps 8-3 in the first half of the second period and tied the score when Machacek scored on a 3-on-1 break off a scramble in the neutral zone at 3:49.
St. John's retook the lead on their second power-play goal of the game with 5:55 left in the period. Cormier tipped in an O'Neill shot from the blue-line to make it 2-1.
"We've played with the lead before. We're pretty comfortable," IceCaps winger Carl Klingberg said. "They came with a strong push. They had their season on the line. They had to go for it and they succeeded. Sometimes they're going to do that."