PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Joey Crabb tied the game with 1:29 left in regulation and Jon DiSalvatore buried a power-play goal 3:05 into overtime, and backed by a 54-save performance from Philipp Grubauer, the HERSHEY BEARS claimed Game Two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 5-4 decision over the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Bears took the lead three times in the game, and late in regulation had to fight back to get the equalizer. It turned out to be two penalties for high-sticking that came back to haunt the Bruins.
Hershey opened the scoring at 3:14 of the first on a breakaway goal from the blue line by Ryan Stoa. Taking a pass from Peter LeBlanc, Stoa deked to the backhand and beat Niklas Svedberg from in close.
Providence would then even the score at 9:05. Graham Mink jumped on the rebound of a shot from Carter Camper and chipped the puck into the upper corner past Grubauer for his first of the postseason.
The Bears earned their first power play chance of the game on a high-sticking call to Bruins forward Justin Florek. Providence was eight seconds away from the kill when rookie Nate Schmidt held a clearing bid onside at the right point and sent a shot toward the net. Nicolas Deschamps deflected the puck through Svedberg’s pads at 14:56 for a 2-1 lead. Despite being outshot 25-8 after the first, the Bears held the one-goal lead.
The Bruins again tied the game with an early second-period goal from Camper. Craig Cunningham’s shot bounced around in traffic, banked off of Camper’s leg and past Grubauer at 1:09.
The third one-goal lead for the Bears came at 10:33. Michael Latta picked off a pass from Chris Bourque in the Providence zone, then fed the high slot. Garrett Mitchell grabbed the pass, skated toward the left hash marks and sent a wrister over the blocker of Svedberg.
Bourque made up for the giveaway just 21 seconds later, firing a long-range slap shot from inside the blue line under Grubauer’s glove and knotting the score 3-3.
The Bruins grabbed their first lead of the series at the 13:18 mark of the third, on the hosts’ third advantage of the game. Mink would strike again when he set up at the top of Grubauer’s crease to deflect a hard pass from Camper into the net.
The Bears would get Grubauer to the bench for the extra attacker with just under two minutes left in regulation. The move would pay off, as the Bears sent three bodies to the Bruins net. Deschamps and Jeff Taffe dug the puck loose from the pile, and it caromed right to Crabb for a slam-dunk tying goal at 18:31.
Garnet Exelby took the Bruins’ second high-sticking penalty, and once again the hosts were closing in on a kill. Schmidt sent a pass from the left point to the right circle for LeBlanc, who in turn slid a pass to his left. DiSalvatore then ripped it past a diving Svedberg to cap off the victory.
Grubauer improves to 2-0 with the win, while Svedberg made 24 saves on 29 shots in the setback. The Bears finished with a 2-for-4 mark on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
With the win, the Bears have a lead of two games to none in the best-of-five format.
The Eastern Conference quarterfinal series shifts back to Chocolatetown for Game Three on Saturday, May 4, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 PM. Tickets for Game Three of this series, as well as the to-be-announced second home playoff game, are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.