Monsters heading home up 2-0

HERSHEY, Pa. ( … The Lake Erie Monsters are heading home with a championship in their sights.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and Anton Forsberg made 27 saves as the Monsters defeated Hershey, 5-3, in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals at Giant Center on Friday night.

With Lake Erie holding a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the teams now head to Cleveland for the next three games, beginning Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena (7 p.m. ET, AHL Live).

A second straight impressive road performance against the Bears leaves the Monsters at 13-2 this postseason and with 22 wins in their last 26 games overall. Lake Erie is also 15-2 in its last 17 away from home.

Hershey was not penalized in Game 1, but Lake Erie capitalized on its first power play of the series early in Game 2 to grab a 1-0 lead. Ryan Craig found Zach Werenski sneaking in from the point and the 18-year-old defenseman buried his fifth goal of the playoffs at 3:05 of the first period.

It was the 10th time in 15 postseason games that the Monsters have scored first.

Lake Erie fended off several chances by Hershey to tie late in the first period, then opened up a 2-0 lead at 4:29 of the second when Bjorkstrand beat Justin Peters off a two-on-one rush for his sixth goal of the postseason.

Back-to-back minors to Lukas Sedlak (boarding) and Jaime Sifers (delay of game) gave the Bears 1:36 of 5-on-3 time, and Zach Sill banged in his own rebound from the top of the crease at 8:48 to get Hershey back within one.

The Bears kept pressing to tie and had an 11-3 edge in shots during the period before Lake Erie restored its two-goal lead on Sedlak’s goal at 13:51. It was Sedlak’s league-leading ninth goal of the playoffs and 19th goal in his last 25 games.

Forsberg’s outstanding glove stop of Jakub Vrana with 8.7 seconds left in the frame allowed the Monsters to hit intermission with a 3-1 lead, and Bjorkstrand shoveled home a loose puck during a Monsters power play 2:04 into the third to make it 4-1.

The Bears clawed back with two goals in less than two minutes midway through the third period. First, Tyler Lewington danced through the Lake Erie defense and snapped home his fourth of the playoffs at 9:57 to pull Hershey back to within 4-2. Then, Aaron Ness‘s nifty no-look pass through the slot found Liam O’Brien at 11:51 to make it 4-3.

Hershey pulled Peters (24 saves) for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining, but Daniel Zaar hit the empty net with 1:01 to play to seal the victory.

Forsberg, who won his seventh consecutive start, has now allowed 11 goals on 213 shots this postseason (.948).

NOTES: Three teams in Calder Cup Finals history have won a series after trailing 0-2, most recently the 2010 Hershey Bears (vs. Texas)… That Bears team was also the only AHL team ever to win the Calder Cup after losing the first two games of the Finals on home ice… Hershey has lost back-to-back games for the first time since Mar. 19-20, and consecutive games at Giant Center for the first time since Jan. 17 and 25… Ryan Craig, Markus Hannikainen and Michael Chaput had two assists each for Lake Erie in Game 2… The Monsters were 2-for-3 on the power play; the Bears were 1-for-3.

2016 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
A1-Hershey Bears vs. C2-Lake Erie Monsters
Game 1 – Wed., June 1 – Lake Erie 4, HERSHEY 1 | Recap | Highlights
Game 2 – Fri., June 3 – Lake Erie 5, HERSHEY 3
Game 3 – Mon., June 6 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 7:00
Game 4 – Sat., June 11 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., June 12 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 6:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 14 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Fri., June 17 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern