PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Jamie Tardif scored the go-ahead goal with 10:40 left in regulation, and the Providence Bruins withstood a late HERSHEY BEARS power play to win Game Five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals by a 3-2 count on Wednesday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Bruins also won the series three games to two in comeback fashion after dropping the first two games on home ice.
For the fourth time in the series, it was the Bears who struck first – with a goal scored following relentless pressure in the offensive zone. The Bruins, on their heels for the opening minute, tried to defend as Dane Byers carried the puck through neutral ice. He fed the left wing, where Casey Wellman would pick up the puck, head toward the crease and send a snap shot over the glove of Niklas Svedberg just 1:19 into the game.
But the Bruins managed to tie the game on a fluky goal. A shot taken by Justin Florek from the left half-boards deflected off of two Bears defensemen and behind Philipp Grubauer at 5:04. Video replay would be consulted but the goal stood.
The teams played to the intermission tied 1-1. The Bears also killed off two Providence power plays late in the frame.
The Bruins then took a 2-1 lead at the 15:08 mark of the second period. After controlling the play for most of the middle frame, the Bruins forced a turnover deep in the right wing corner. Carter Camper dug the puck loose and fed Jordan Caron, who cut to the slot and sent a wrist shot past a screened Grubauer.
The Bears’ leading playoff goal scorer then took over to tie the game early in the third. Shortly after serving a holding penalty just 50 seconds into the period, Joey Crabb collected a pass from Peter LeBlanc, emerged in the bottom of the right circle and snuck a backhander short-side on Svedberg at the 3:56 mark.
Providence then scored at 9:20 to take a 3-2 lead. Defenseman Kevan Miller took a shot from the right point that Grubauer saved. The Bruins crashed the crease and Tardif was able to tuck the puck under Grubauer’s pads and into the net before the play could be stopped.
The Bruins held their lead but were forced to kill off a tripping penalty to Kyle MacKinnon with 31 seconds left to play. The Bears, skating six players against four with Grubauer on the bench, were unable to come up with a shot in the waning seconds despite pressure at the front of the net.
Grubauer made 34 saves and earned the game’s third star honor in the setback, falling to 2-3 in his first AHL postseason. Svedberg made 24 saves on 26 shots to improve to 3-2. Each team finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
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