Two notable streaks ended Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and as a result, the Hershey Bears will need at least one more game if they are to reach the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins snapped a seven-game playoff losing streak against Hershey, recording two power-play goals after starting the series 0-for-20 with the man advantage. The 3-2 overtime decision in Game 4 of the East Division Finals sends the two teams back to Hershey’s GIANT Center for Friday’s Game 5 with the Bears leading the series, 3-1.
Kurtis McLean scored both power-play goals for the Penguins, including the winner just 35 seconds into overtime.
Hershey’s loss ended a six-game winning streak for the defending Calder Cup champions, who featured a lineup that included seven players who skated for the Washington Capitals at some point this season. Hershey is now 7-2 in the playoffs, with both losses coming in overtime.
The Bears battled back from one-goal deficits twice Wednesday night, beginning in a bizarre first period that included three controversial goal/no goal calls. It started early, as the Penguins’ Ryan Stone got his second goal of the playoffs in a four-on-four situation just 3:18 into the game. The goal light didn’t go on after Stone’s high shot beat Frederic Cassivi, but it was ruled a goal (the AHL, unlike the NHL, does not have video review capability to make a final determination).
Hershey appeared to tie the score with 3:04 remaining in the first, but Jakub Klepis’ rebound bid was blown dead on a delayed penalty call. Just 30 seconds after that, Stone’s apparent second goal was ruled to have hit the post and not found the top corner of the net behind Cassivi.
With time winding down in the period and given another opportunity to tie the score, Klepis made sure there was no doubt. The Bears’ most dangerous player all night, Klepis buried one of his game-high six shots on goal off a beautiful power-play pass from Alexandre Giroux. Chris Bourque
, manning a power-play point, had the second assist.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lost its goal scorer 7:32 into the second period when Stone ran over Bears rookie Andrew Joudrey in front of the Penguins bench and was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding. The play bore similarities to the hit that sent Joey Tenute to the sidelines in Game 3, and a pair of Bears rose to Joudrey’s defense (Joudrey remained in the game). Kip Brennan and Scott Barney each got roughing minors, and the Penguins had a four-on-three power play for two minutes despite Stone’s major.
McLean cashed in on the opportunity, his third goal of the playoffs, finishing Jonathan Filewich’s cross-crease pass for the power-play goal.
Hershey tied the score again on Matt Hendricks
’ team-leading fifth goal of the playoffs, giving him goals in four straight games. Klepis and defenseman Mike Green
had generated chances on the Bears’ power play, with Green’s shot nearly beating goaltender Nolan Schafer. Hendricks popped in the rebound to tie the score, 2-2.
The third was scoreless, with each team’s best chance coming in a 20-second span near the midpoint of the period. Jean-Francois Jacques’ bid was foiled by Cassivi at one end, and Hershey sprung center David Steckel on a breakaway in the other direction. Steckel battled the rolling puck, but Schafer gobbled it up.
McLean’s second goal came just 35 seconds into overtime, as Chad Wiseman was whistled for hooking 11 seconds into the extra session. Jacques took a shot from the right wing circle that was blocked down in front, with McLean jumping on the puck as it settled by the left post and putting it behind Cassivi. NOTES:
Hershey held a 27-18 shots on goal advantage … Steckel had his point-scoring streak snapped at five games. He leads the team with nine playoff points and a +5 rating … Wiseman returned to the Hershey lineup after being injured in Game 1 of the series, filling Tenute’s spot … Hendricks’ five goals put him one shy of a three-way tie for the AHL lead … Filewich’s assist was the first point of the series for the Penguins’ leading scorer … Each team was 2-for-5 on the power play … Manchester beat Providence Wednesday night in the other Eastern Conference series, tying that series at 2-2 … Tickets for Friday’s game at GIANT Center are available at the arena box office or by calling 717.534.3911.