Bears Rally Late But Fall in Shootout
(Providence, RI) - Lucas Johansen scored his first goal since Oct. 19 to tie the game late, but the Hershey Bears dropped a 3-2 shootout decision on Friday night to the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The loss in the skills competition snapped a string of five consecutive shootout wins dating back to Jan. 23 at Lehigh Valley.
Hershey dictated the pace in the opening frame, and Riley Barber tallied the game's first goal at 18:26. Aaron Ness sent a perfect, sub-goal line pass to Barber at the net front, who snapped a quick shot past Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre. Barber's goal marked his 27th of the season, setting a new career-high for the fourth season pro. The Bears penalty kill went a successful 2-for-2 in the period to help command a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes. Shots at first intermission were even at 12-12.
Next period, the Bruins special teams came alive and tallied two power play goals to salvage a 2-1 lead. At 7:11, Jordan Szwarz scored his 19th goal of the season after finishing a loose puck in the blue paint past Vitek Vanecek. At 16:21, the Chocolate and White were whistled for too many men after the puck in the neutral zone glanced Johansen still in the process of making a line change. On the ensuing power play, Connor Clifton danced around the Bears zone and eventually found an open Paul Carey to bury a cross-ice feed at 17:17. Shots after 40 minutes were 25-18 Providence with a 2-1 lead intact.
The Bears rallied in the third period, and Johansen found the equalizer at 15:05. From the right wing, Johansen threw a fluttering shot past McIntyre to even the score at 2-2 on his second goal of the season. Sudden-death overtime did not provide a winner, and Hershey advanced to their 11th shootout of the season. Scoreless into the sixth round, Anton Blidh scored blocker side on Vanecek, and McIntyre denied Aaron Ness with a stick save to go 6-for-6 in the skills competition.
Hershey's record moved to 33-22-1-4 in the shootout loss, and are now tied in points with Providence at 69. The Bears remain with one less game played than the Bruins. Both teams rematch tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Voice of the Bears Zack Fisch will have the call on the Bears Radio Network.
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