The final piece of the second-round puzzle fell into place on Saturday night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defeated the Hershey Bears, 2-1, in the decisive Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
By virtue of winning the series three games to two, the Penguins advance to the second round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs to take on the St. John’s IceCaps beginning Tuesday night in Newfoundland. (Full series schedules)
A heavyweight battle between arch rivals was scoreless for more than 37 minutes on Saturday before Cal O’Reilly got the Penguins on the board on the back half of a four-minute power play. Then just seven seconds later, Zach Sill doubled the Wilkes-Barre lead to 2-0.
Ryan Potulny, whose overtime goal in Game 3 helped Hershey extend the series in the first of their three elimination games after falling behind 0-2 in the series, got the Bears on the board just 23 seconds into the third period of Game 5, but the Penguins did not allow them to get any closer.
Each team has now won three times in the six playoff series meetings between the Penguins and Bears. Each of the previous five times, the series winner would wind up going all the way to the Calder Cup Finals.