WORCESTER 4, MANCHESTER 3
Steven Zalewski notched his first goal of the playoffs with 8:50 to play in regulation, snapping a 3-3 tie and sending Worcester to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over visiting Manchester on Sunday in Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Finals.
The Sharks surrendered the game’s first two goals but rallied to capture their first-ever victory in a playoff series opener (1-4).
Oscar Moller quickly put the Monarchs out on top when he raced down the left wing and snapped a shot home just 35 seconds into the contest. John Zeiler then buried a centering feed at 9:17 to put Manchester up by a pair.
Rookie Benn Ferriero cut Worcester’s deficit in half late in the second period on a rare miscue by Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier, as Ferriero’s shot from the left circle bounced up and over Bernier’s glove and into the net.
Sharks forward Dean Strong tied it up just 2:02 into the third frame, sending a wrist shot from the right circle past Bernier, and Cory Quirk put Worcester on top 4:27 later as he wristed one from the left circle high to Bernier’s glove side.
Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock earned the win with 22 saves in net, while Bernier made 23 saves but took his first loss of the playoffs (4-1).
Worcester, which has won five straight contests since dropping its postseason opener to Lowell on Apr. 14, will host Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night.
HERSHEY 6, ALBANY 3
Hershey erupted for three power play goals and an empty-netter in the third period to double up Albany by a 6-3 count and take a 2-0 series lead in the East Division Finals.
The Bears, who improved to 5-0 on home ice this postseason, will travel to New York’s capital city for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
The teams entered the third period deadlocked at 2-2, but Nick Dodge gave the River Rats a 3-2 edge when he scored shorthanded just 1:16 into the frame.
Hershey’s power play took over from there, as Andrew Gordon lit the lamp at 3:24, Alexandre Giroux followed 46 seconds later, and Gordon scored again at the 9:56 mark. Steve Pinizzotto added an empty-net tally with 1:38 to play.
Giroux also notched a second-period goal for the Bears, and he and Gordon are tied for the league lead with eight postseason markers apiece.
Gordon now shows four goals and six points through the first two games of this series against Albany, while Giroux boasts 2-3-5 totals thus far.
Ashton Rome rounded out Hershey’s offense with his first goal of the playoffs, and both Karl Alzner (0-3-3) and Chris Bourque (0-2-2) contributed multiple assists. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 18 saves in the Bears’ net.
Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman also scored for the River Rats, who lost twice in less than 24 hours to begin this round after earning a four-game sweep of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the division semifinals.