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Hughes sends Wolf Pack to round two

Tommy Hughes scored off his own rebound 4:35 into overtime as the Hartford Wolf Pack advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 3-2 win over the Providence Bruins in their winner-take-all Game 5 at the XL Center on Friday night.

Hartford will meet either Hershey or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second round.

Chris Mueller scored twice and Yann Danis stopped 38 of 40 shots for the Wolf Pack, who rallied from 2-1 down the series and then from 2-1 down in the final minute of regulation in Game 5.

After a scoreless opening period, Providence struck first for the first time in the series as Seth Griffith‘s shot from the corner was tipped in by Colin Stuart at 7:55 of the second.

The Wolf Pack tied it on a power play at 17:27 as Mueller pounced on a loose puck in the crease and slammed home his first goal of these playoffs.

Tommy Cross gave the Bruins the lead back with 12:24 remaining in the third period, skating in from the point and snapping a shot from the left-wing circle past Danis (3-2).

Both teams were awarded power plays late in regulation, and the Wolf Pack converted on theirs as Mueller ripped a one-timer past Jeremy Smith with just 46.0 seconds left and Danis pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage.

On the series-clinching goal, Hughes took a feed from Oscar Lindberg — who had three assists in Game 5 — through the neutral zone and skated down the right wing, got around a Bruins defender down low and whacked a second effort through Smith (1-2) to give Hartford the 3-2 victory.

Smith made 39 saves on the night as Hartford finished with a 42-40 edge in shots.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
3-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. 6-Providence Bruins

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 22 – HARTFORD 3, Providence 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Providence 2, HARTFORD 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 2, Hartford 1 (3OT)
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Hartford 2, PROVIDENCE 1
Game 5 – Fri., May 1 – HARTFORD 3, Providence 2 (OT)