Unsinkable Monsters force Game 7 with more late heroics

Photo: Tori Hartman

In his return to the lineup after missing the last 10 games due to injury, defenseman Jake Christiansen scored 17:31 into overtime to give the Cleveland Monsters an improbable 3-2 victory over Hershey in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night.

The Monsters are the fifth team in AHL history to send a series to a Game 7 after losing the first three games. The Eastern Conference championship will be decided on Wednesday night at Giant Center (7 ET, AHLTV, NHL Network).

For the third time in the series, Cleveland forced overtime with a tying goal late in regulation after pulling the goaltender for an extra attacker. Brendan Gaunce threw a shot to the front of the net that ricocheted in with 32.9 seconds left, making it 2-2 just 17 seconds after Joe Snively had seemingly scored the series-clinching goal for Hershey at the 19:10 mark of the third period.

Both teams had grade-A chances to win in OT, but it was the two-time AHL All-Star Christiansen who ended it on a wrister from the left point that beat Hunter Shepard for his first career postseason goal.

Owen Sillinger opened the scoring for the Monsters at 17:14 of the first period, and Henrik Rybinski answered for the Bears at 10:37 of the second.

Jet Greaves stopped 29 shots in the win, while Shepard finished with 29 saves in dropping his first career playoff OT decision (6-1).

The loss was Hershey’s first on home ice this postseason (6-1).

(Series tied, 3-3)
Game 1 – Thu., May 30 – HERSHEY 5, Cleveland 4 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., June 1 – HERSHEY 3, Cleveland 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Tue., June 4 – Hershey 6, CLEVELAND 2
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – CLEVELAND 3, Hershey 2
Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – CLEVELAND 5, Hershey 1
Game 6 – Mon., June 10 – Cleveland 3, HERSHEY 2 (OT)
Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern