The Hershey Bears erased a three-goal deficit and topped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-3 on a double-overtime goal by Alexandre Giroux to take a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven East Division finals.
Giroux scored the equalizer for Hershey in the third period and then knocked in the game-winner at the 5:57 mark of the second overtime. After securing Hershey’s fifth straight playoff win, Giroux raced to the glass and nearly jumped onto the boards as his gloved hands reached the top of the glass. His jubilant teammates closed in on him in celebration.
It was a wild scene that none of the 7,919 fans in attendance at Giant Center could have imagined only a few hours earlier.
As in Game 1 the Pens skated to the early lead when Connor James beat Frederic Cassivi at 11:58 in the first period. Unlike Game 1 the Bears were not able to immediately answer and it looked like a rout was on.
The Pens remained the aggressor in the second period and added two more goals less than two minutes apart. Kurtis McLean took a Robert Nilsson pass from behind the net to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up by two at 5:08 in the second period and then Micki DuPont went five-hole on Cassivi from the right point at the 6:23 mark forcing Hershey into an uncomfortable position.
It was the first time the Bears trailed by more than one goal during the playoffs. However the Bears deficit would not last for long.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the second period Matt Hendricks
put Hershey on the board and the comeback was on. Hendricks received the puck near the blueline from Giroux and Dave Steckel before beating Pens goaltender Nolan Schaefer one-on-one on the gloveside.
Steckel then had a chance to pull the Bears to within one but his shorthanded breakaway was turned away by Schaefer, who finished with 50 saves, with less than four minutes remaining in the second period.
Steckel, who tied Giroux with a game-high +3 rating, redeemed himself at the beginning of the third period when he slid a rebound from a Tim Wedderburn shot past Schaefer.
Giroux then leveled the score at the 12:31 mark when he beat Schaefer after the goaltender turned away a point-blank range shot from Scott Barney.
The Bears had the momentum in the first overtime and peppered Schaefer with 15 shots—their most in a period all night—but could not sneak in the winner.
Cassivi, who finished with 41 saves, turned away 11 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shots in the first overtime and only needed to record one save in the second overtime before Giroux won it for Hershey.
The Bears swept the Pens last year in the playoffs en route to winning the Calder Cup and thanks to a thrilling comeback victory they are halfway there to doing it again this year.
The Bears now take their 2-0 series lead into Game 3, which will be played at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre. Game 4 is slated for next Wednesday.