The first trip to the playoffs for the modern Philadelphia Wings was a classic goaltending battle between Zach Higgins and San Diego’s Frank Scigliano. Unfortunately for the Wings, Scigliano and the Seals came out on top by a single tally, winning 9-8 to advance to the West Conference Finals.
The netminders were easily the first two stars of the game, as they combined to stop 94 shots – 50 saves for Higgins and 44 for Scigliano. It was just a matter of who would be first and who would be second – something dictated by the outcome – and that’s the part that didn’t go the Wings’ way.
The game as a back-and-forth affair all night which the Wings never led, but also never trailed by more than two goals. San Diego scored twice in the first 5:03 to take a 2-0 lead, a cushion that they would surf the entire evening. The Wings came back to tie the score at 2-2 later in the first quarter and tied it again at 5-5 just over six minutes into the third.
But it was a pair of goals from Austin Staats 23 seconds apart in the third quarter that put the Seals ahead for good, as the teams simply traded goals over the final 20 minutes. Kyle Jackson pulled the Wings within a goal with 4:28 remaining, but there would be no further scoring.
Matt Rambo led the way for the Wings with a hat trick and 11 shots on goal, while Jackson and Kiel Matisz each had a pair of tallies. But Scigliano and the Seals effectively shut down the rest of the Wings offense – while they got a total of 10 assists from Kevin Crowley (5), Ben McIntosh (4) and Corey Small (1), San Diego kept the top three Philadelphia goal scorers on the regular season out of the goal column completely.
Higgins did all he could between the pipes for the Wings, picking up a 50-save contest after having three of those over the course of the season. He stopped 15 of San Diego’s 16 shots in the fourth quarter as the Wings tried to make the final comeback. Philadelphia’s power play, the best in the league in the regular season, was 3-for-4 on the contest.