The Hershey Bears are heading to the second round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs are hanging on for a 2-1 win over the Portland Pirates in their winner-take-all Game 5 on Sunday evening.
The Bears will meet the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins beginning Wednesday night in the AHL’s version of the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry going on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It will be the seventh all-time postseason meeting between the in-state foes, and the first since 2012.
Justin Peters, coming off a Game 4 shutout, stopped 23 of 24 shots in Game 5 to backstop the Bears to the victory. Hershey is now 8-1 all-time when facing playoff elimination at Giant Center, and 14-4 all-time at home in winner-take-all games.
Sean Collins put Hershey on the board first with 5:41 left in the opening period. Portland turned the puck over behind its own net and Liam O’Brien’s centering pass was one-timed home by Collins from the bottom of the right-wing circle for his first goal in 18 career playoff games.
Ryan Stanton doubled the Bears lead at 8:29 of the second period, finishing up an odd-man rush started by Jakub Vrana and Ryan Bourque. It was the second goal of the series for Stanton, who scored four goals in 60 games during the regular season.
Mike Matheson ripped a shot that Wayne Simpson deflected past Justin Peters at 2:51 of the third period to get the Pirates back within 2-1, Portland’s first goal in more than 100 minutes since their triple-overtime winner in Game 3 on Thursday.
Peters (3-1) held down the fort the rest of the way and finished the series with four goals allowed on 119 shots (0.85, .966).
Mike McKenna (2-3) made 21 saves in the loss for Portland, which has lost eight of nine winner-take-all games in franchise history.
Atlantic Division Semifinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
A1-Hershey Bears vs. A4-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 22 – PORTLAND 6, Hershey 4
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Hershey 3, PORTLAND 1
Game 3 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Portland 2, HERSHEY 1 (3OT)
Game 4 – Sat., Apr. 30 – HERSHEY 2, Portland 0
Game 5 – Sun., May 1 – HERSHEY 2, Portland 1
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 1, 2016