Rested and ready, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins opened the Atlantic Division Finals with a 4-0 win over the Hershey Bears at Giant Center on Wednesday night.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set for Friday night.
The Penguins, who had been off since Apr. 23 after finishing a three-game sweep of Providence in the first round, needed less than a minute to take the lead en route to the 100th postseason win in franchise history. Casey DeSmith went on to make 33 saves for the first shutout of his professional career.
Hershey, which needed five games to dispatch Portland in the division semifinals, had just two days off before opening the series with their in-state rivals, and the Bears quickly found themselves in a hole when Dustin Jeffrey feathered a lead pass to Daniel Sprong, who split a pair of Bears defenders and put a shot past Justin Peters’ glove side for his fourth goal of the postseason 45 seconds into the game.
Jake Guentzel had an opportunity to extend the Penguins’ lead on a penalty shot with 56.3 seconds left in the first period, but was denied by Peters.
Wilkes-Barre then scored just 14 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0, as Carter Rowney deflected Ryan Parent’s point shot home. It was the fourth time already this postseason that the Penguins scored in the opening minute of a period.
Sprong’s second goal of the night came 7:04 into the third period on a Penguins power play, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead. Wilkes-Barre then killed off a Hershey man advantage and DeSmith (4-0) stopped Nathan Walker on a penalty shot at 9:39.
Tom Kostopoulos found an empty net for a shorthanded goal with 2:53 remaining to secure the final margin for the Penguins.
Peters (3-2) finished with 27 saves for the Bears.
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Wed., May 4 – W-B/Scranton 4, HERSHEY 0
Game 2 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 7 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Wed., May 11 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Fri., May 13 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., May 15 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 4, 2016