HARTFORD, Conn. – Andre Burakovsky and Nate Schmidt each scored in their return from the Washington Capitals, but Marek Hrivik recorded a hat trick with all goals set up by Chris Bourque and the Hartford Wolf Pack went on to a 6-3 win over the Hershey Bears on Friday night at the XL Center. Hartford wins the Eastern Conference semifinal series four games to two.
Things started well for the Bears, as Burakovsky – playing his first career Calder Cup playoff shift – carried the puck into the Hartford zone two-on-one. He held the puck and then fired a snap shot over the glove of Yann Danis at 1:24.
Later in the frame, the Wolf Pack tied the contest on a fluke goal. A Bourque dump-in into the left corner bounced wildly right out in front, and Hrivik was there to tap the puck home at 9:02.
Hrivik would score his second of the game at 1:26 of the second period, a wraparound that slipped between Grubauer’s pads.
The Wolf Pack earned a power play shortly afterward, but Dustin Gazley was sent in alone on Danis by a nice pass from Kris Newbury, and Gazley promptly fired over Danis’ glove at 5:39 to tie the game 2-2.
Hartford regained the lead when Mike Kostka followed up his own rebound and slipped a shot inside the far post at the 9:00 mark. Joey Crabb set up the goal, and just over seven minutes later, set up in the slot to one-time a pass from Oscar Lindberg through a screen and past Grubauer for a 4-2 advantage.
The score held until the 12:44 mark of the third. Schmidt made an incredible individual effort at the offensive blue line to spin away from a check, then carried the puck down the slot on his backhand. He took a shot off the backhand and beat Danis stick-side, cutting the deficit to one.
But moments later, Hartford grabbed the momentum right back. Ryan Haggerty would dump the puck into the right corner and force a turnover on the forecheck. The puck came right to Carl Klingberg, who promptly snapped a shot over Grubauer’s glove at 14:14 for a 5-3 Hartford lead.
Hrivik capped off the hat trick by tapping a Bourque feed from the corner into the vacated net with 35.5 seconds left to play.
Grubauer made 31 saves on 35 shots and saw his record drop to 2-4 in the postseason. Danis stopped 23 of 26 in the win, improving to 7-4.
With the win, Hartford will face the Manchester Monarchs in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals.
The Hershey Bears Hockey Club thanks all sponsors, fans, staff and friends for the support.
NOTES: The Washington Capitals reassigned LW Andre Burakovsky earlier in the day…The Bears scratched G Keegan Asmundson, C Joel Broda, RW Chris Brown, D Tomas Kundratek and D Mike Moore… Hartford scratched D Kodie Curran, G Cedrick Desjardins, D Dallas Jackson, G Jeff Malcolm, LW Chris McCarthy, G Jason Missiaen, RW Josh Nicholls, D Steve Spinell, LW Nick Tarnasky, LW Justin Vaive and D Daniel Walcott…Hershey finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill…Dustin Gazley scored his second shorthanded goal of the playoffs, and the Bears’ fifth as a team…Nate Schmidt led the Bears in postseason scoring (4-5-9).