They barely squeaked into the playoffs by winning their final regular season game. The Hershey Bears make the most of their playoff opportunity by defeating the Providence Bruins 5-2 in Game One of their best of five series. Hershey capitalized on a handful of power play chances to take an early lead and never trailed in the series opener.
The following is the official game story from the Hershey Bears:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The HERSHEY BEARS scored three times on the power play and Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves for his first career AHL postseason victory, a 5-2 decision over the Providence Bruins on Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Bears take a one game to none lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the win.
The visitors came out flying and created two good scoring chances before the game was two minutes old. Bruins netminder Niklas Svedberg picked up where he left off in the regular season, making a pad stop on a Jeff Taffe redirection attempt for his best stop of the period. The Bruins would then take the first penalty of the game, and the Bears made them pay. Off of a turnover at the Bruins net front, Taffe faked Svedberg down and passed to his left, where Joey Crabb had a slam dunk for a 1-0 lead.
The Bears then opened the game up with three strikes in the middle period, the first two coming on the man advantage. Casey Wellman made it a 2-0 game when he banked a shot off of a Providence defenseman and through the legs of Svedberg at 4:43, while the Bears worked a two-man power play.
Hershey cashed in on the second portion of the advantage as well. Nicolas Deschamps would work the puck to the point, and Tomas Kundratek let fly with a wrist shot. Jon DiSalvatore, from inside the right circle, deflected the puck down and past Svedberg at 5:22.
Just four minutes later, Peter LeBlanc would win a faceoff in the left circle. Ryan Stoa immediately pushed it to the center point, and Dmitry Orlov let fly with a slapper that eluded Svedberg over the glove for a 4-0 lead.
Michael Hutchinson came on in relief of Svedberg at that 9:23 mark, and stopped all six shots he faced. That allowed the Bruins to gain a bit of momentum, as Jamie Tardif drove the slot and chipped a pass from Jordan Caron over Grubauer at 13:56. After a long video replay review, the goal would stand. The Bears took the 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
Providence clawed back even further, as Christian Hanson made it a 4-2 game early in the third period when a puck bounced off the back wall right to the center’s stick. With Grubauer down at the top of his crease, Hanson tucked the puck home from the side at 3:54.
Providence had two power play chances in the third period to try and cut the deficit even further, but the Bears penalty kill finished perfectly. Michael Latta capped off the night by hitting the empty net for a shorthanded strike with 6.2 seconds left on the clock.
Grubauer improves to 1-0 in the postseason, while Svedberg was tagged with the loss, making 19 saves on 23 shots in 29:23 of play. Hutchinson stopped all 11 shots he faced and earned no decision in 29:10 of work.
The Bears were 3-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Eastern Conference quarterfinal series remains in Rhode Island for Game Two this coming Sunday, April 28. Face off is set for 3:05 PM. The series will shift to Chocolatetown for Game Three on Saturday, May 4, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 PM.
Tickets for Game Three of this series are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.