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Special teams, Berkhoel help give Pens series lead


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4, HERSHEY 1

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped to an early lead for the second straight night and parlayed it into 4-1 win over Hershey on Saturday at Wachovia Arena.

Goaltender Adam Berkhoel helped shut down the Bears’ potent offense with 39 saves for the Penguins, who have won three straight at home to take a 3-2 lead in the East Division Finals.

The Penguins staked themselves to a 2-0 advantage before the game was 14 minutes old on power-play goals by Chris Minard and Luca Caputi.

After Darren Reid brought Hershey within 2-1 at 5:19 of the middle frame, Penguins rookie Nick Johnson tallied another power-play score at the 15:08 mark.

Johnson, who added an assist, leads the Pens with eight points (4-4-8) in five games this series. Caputi and Jeff Taffe also posted a goal and a helper for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Hershey held a 28-15 edge in shots over the final 40 minutes but could not pull any closer. Berkhoel earned his third consecutive victory between the pipes and has stopped 105 of 111 shots (.946) in four appearances against the Bears.

Taffe bagged an empty-net shorthanded goal in the closing minute for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Penguins went 3-for-8 on the power play and have now converted 11 of 24 opportunities (45.8%) this postseason at Wachovia Arena, where they are 15-4 in their last 19 playoff games overall and 7-0 in their last seven against Hershey. The Bears were scoreless on eight power play tries Saturday.

The teams now head back to Hershey for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will be looking to close out the Bears and advance to its second consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. To do so, the Pens will have to become the first road team to capture a victory in this series.

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins
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Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – W-B/SCRANTON 6, Hershey 3
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Hershey 1
Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00