HERSHEY, Pa. – Ryan Potulny scored in the fourth round of the shootout, and Braden Holtby stopped four of five opponents to help the HERSHEY BEARS end a nine-game winless streak against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at GIANT Center with a 4-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Penguins got on the board first while the BEARS worked their first power play of the night. Chris Bourque was unable to find the puck in his skates at the center point, allowing Brandon DeFazio to skate in alone on Holtby and fire a slapshot inside the left post for the 1-0 lead at 3:43.
The BEARS climbed right back at 4:57 when the fourth line of D.J. King, Garrett Mitchell and Andrew Carroll worked a cycle in the right corner. King fed the center point for Sean Collins, whose slapper sailed right past Scott Munroe.
At 6:09, HERSHEY grabbed its first lead of the night when Chris Bourque collected a cross-ice feed from Boyd Kane and waited out Munroe, then sent a wrist shot into the upper part of the net.
But the Penguins would not quit and got the equalizer at 12:46, when Bryan Lerg got enough of a stick on Cody Wild’s center point slap shot to pop the puck over Holtby’s left pad and into the net.
The Penguins reclaimed their lead at 10:16 of the second period with one second left on a two-man advantage. Geoff Walker took a headman pass from Ryan Craig, cut to the left faceoff circle and placed a wrist shot into the upper-right corner behind Holtby.
Trailing 3-2 early in the third period, it would be newly-acquired forward Mike Carman providing heroics. Graham Mink, while working in the right corner, made a perfect backhand pass into the slot, where Carman grabbed it and sent a wrist shot in past the blocker of Munroe.
The two teams would go to overtime, where the Penguins outshot the BEARS 2-0, but got no further scoring. Defenseman Tomas Kundratek made a game-saving block with Holtby out of position to allow play to continue.
The Penguins were granted the first chance in the shootout, and Paul Thompson was turned aside. Bourque was unsuccessful in the BEARS’ first chance, and neither team scored until Walker beat Holtby through the pads. Cody Eakin picked up his fourth shootout goal in as many chances to tie things up, and after Jason Williams was stopped, Potulny’s wrist shot beat Munroe for the go-ahead tally. Holtby made one last stop on Ben Street to seal the win.
Holtby improves to 16-11-1 with the win, making 24 saves. Munroe also stopped 24 shots, but fell to 9-3-3.
The BEARS finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play, and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
With the added point, the BEARS are now four points behind the Penguins in second place in the East Division.
The BEARS will travel to upstate New York to take on the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, February 10 at 7:30 PM. The team returns home to host the Worcester Sharks on Saturday, February 11 with faceoff at 7:00 PM. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.