ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Michael Latta scored the tying goal in the third period and Philipp Grubauer stopped four of five Albany Devils opponents after making 33 saves in regulation and overtime, in the Hershey Bears’ 3-2 shootout victory on Friday night at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
The Devils earned the game’s first two power play chances, and took all of seven seconds to capitalize on their second. Off of a shot from Tim Sestito, Reid Boucher saw the puck bounce right to him off of Grubauer’s pad for the slam-dunk rebound at 8:12.
The Bears would grab momentum just before the period came to a close. Dane Byers grabbed a loose puck at the Albany blue line and led a two-on-two rush. Byers sped around Devils defenseman Dan Kelly along the right-wing boards, and centered the puck. A charging Matt Watkins got his stick blade on the pass and deflected the puck past Albany netminder Scott Wedgewood with 11.6 seconds remaining in the period, tying the game.
A late second-period tally by Albany put the hosts ahead 2-1 at the 15:34 mark, and it came on a tough break. Forward Stefan Matteau had the puck in the right-wing corner and attempted a centering pass. The puck deflected off of a Hershey defenseman and back through Grubauer’s legs.
The Bears would stay the course, however, and play patient hockey to get the game squared up again. Off of a rebound of a shot from Peter LeBlanc, Latta had the puck on the bottom of the left circle with Wedgewood down. He waited and fired a snap shot under the crossbar at 9:23.
In the shootout, Ryan Stoa and Casey Wellman buried the Bears’ first two opportunities, while Matteau was the only player to solve Grubauer.
Grubauer improves to 10-5-1 on the season, while Wedgewood made 20 saves in regulation and overtime, and two of four in the shootout, falling to 7-10-3.
With the win, the Bears improve to 27-16-3-3 (60 points) and are now one point out of second place in the East Division.
The Bears return home tomorrow, February 15 to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:00 PM. Tickets for this and all remaining home games are available by calling (717) 508-BEAR, by stopping into the GIANT Center box office or by visiting TicketMaster.com.
NOTES: The Bears injury scratches were RW Stanislav Galiev, D Tomas Kundratek and RW Garrett Mitchell…The healthy scratches were D Chay Genoway, LW John Mitchell, RW Joel Rechlicz, LW Nathan Walker, D Patrick Wellar and LW Derek Whitmore…Hershey finished the night 0-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill…The Bears improved to 6-3 in shootouts this season, with their second consecutive shootout win over Albany...The Bears swept the two games against Albany at Boardwalk Hall, and are now 3-2-1-0 in their last six neutral-site games.