PROVIDENCE 3, HERSHEY 2
Providence didn’t take long to make a statement in the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring a pair of power play goals in the first period and holding on for a 3-2 road victory over Hershey in Game 1 on Saturday.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 32 shots for the Bruins, who became the first road team to win at Giant Center this postseason.
Hershey had won six straight home games to open the playoffs and, including the regular season, entered with 33 victories in 46 contests at Giant Center in 2008-09.
But the Bears’ penalty kill, which had surrendered just two power play goals in 28 tries at Giant Center this postseason (92.9 percent), allowed two in the first 16:19 on Saturday.
Defenseman Jeff Penner gave Providence a 1-0 lead at 8:03, and Jordan Knackstedt followed a little more than eight minutes later with another man-advantage tally. It marked the third goal of the postseason for both players.
Hershey rookie Oskar Osala tallied two of the game’s next three goals, all in the second period, but Bruins rookie Matt Marquardt scored in between for the eventual game-winner. Zach Hamill and Peter Schaefer each posted their second assists of the night on Marquardt’s first career AHL playoff goal.
Rask allowed two or fewer goals for the 10th time in 12 postseason outings this spring, and he and the Bruins improved to 9-2 in their last 11 contests. Providence’s power play finished 2-for-4 on the night.
Hershey rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of the division finals against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, stopped 25 of 28 shots in the losing effort on Saturday.
The Bears, who dropped a Game 1 for the first time this postseason, will have a chance to rebound quickly when they host Game 2 of the series on Sunday evening.
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A2-Providence Bruins
Game 1 – Sat., May 16 – Providence 3, HERSHEY 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 17 – Providence at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Fri., May 22 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 25 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 27 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., May 28 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00