On Wednesday night, the WBS Penguins did something they had previously done only one time before in their history. Win a playoff game at the GIANT Center. The previous time was in 2008, as WBS defeated the Hershey Bears 2-1 in overtime on their way to a five-game series victory. With home ice advantage already stolen away, the Penguins took to the ice on Friday night in Hershey looking to further solidify their series lead before returning home.
Expected #WBSPens Lines:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) May 6, 2016
Expected #WBSPens D-pairings:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) May 6, 2016
A couple of notable changes from Game 1, as Dominik Simon sustained what was described as an "upper body injury" as a result of getting slammed into the glass in the final minute of Game 1 by Hershey's Liam O'Brien. Sahir Gill replaced Simon in the lineup, with shuffling of the third and fourth lines to match. Also, former Hershey captain Steve Oleksy returned to the WBS defense, taking the place of proud new papa Niclas Andersen for Game 2.
On the Hershey front, O'Brien was suspended for his charging major and game misconduct of Simon on Wednesday night, his third suspension this season and fourth during his two-year Hershey career. Forward Dustin Gazley took O'Brien's place in the Hershey lineup.
The Penguins did not score within the first minute of this first period, unlike two periods of Wednesday's game. WBS received two different power plays in the first period, but not only were they unable to convert on either of them...
What a beaut. #HERvsWBS pic.twitter.com/T9u0XQOeLX— AHL (@TheAHL) May 6, 2016
There's Gazley, leading a 2 on 1 rush with Sean Collins, dishing off to Collins for him to turn DeSmith inside out for a shorthanded goal, the third allowed by WBS this postseason after allowing 9 all regular season.
That goal seemed to take the Bears to another level, as 2:23 later, Hershey center Carter Camper scored his first goal of the playoffs on the very next shot that DeSmith faced after the shorthanded goal. Assists went to Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey. Hershey would see the lead through to the intermission, outshooting WBS 10-5 in the first period and leading 2-0.
The second session ebbed back and forth rather evenly, as both teams were again unable to convert on power plays. WBS stared danger in the face in the final six minutes, as following a bad line change and too many Penguins on the ice, Tim Erixon sat for hooking, giving the Bears 1:55 of 5 on 3 time. Hershey attempted to go for quality shots rather than all of the shots, and that choice more than anything led to WBS killing off the two-player PK. No goals were scored in the second, with Hershey expanding their shot advantage to 19-13 after two periods.
The Penguins opened the third period on the power play, as former WBS Penguin Zach Sill started in the box for cross checking, but they were unable to crack Justin Peters, returned to the net for Game 2, and the Hershey PK. WBS got another opportunity when Erik Burgdoerfer sat for interference with 9:56 to play, but again the Hershey PK stood tall, finishing the evening a perfect 5 for 5. Despite a furious rally late, running up a 14-6 shot total in the third and winning the shot battle 27-25, WBS just could not break down the Hershey defense, as Peters bounced back from Wednesday's loss in a huge way to saddle WBS with their first loss this postseason, a 2-0 shutout, and first star honors. Carter Camper took second honors with his insurance goal, and Sean Collins's game-winning shorthanded goal earned third honors.
At the end of the day, WBS did exactly what they needed to do in the opening part of this series. Win a game in Hershey. Steal the home ice advantage. Now, they have a very short turnaround to head back to use it.
Game 3 between the Penguins and Bears takes place Saturday night at 7:05. Game 4 will be on Monday night at 7:05, again at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, and Game 5 (now guaranteed) will be on Wednesday night, May 11, in Hershey.