The Hershey Bears continued their recent struggles on Saturday night at Giant Center by dropping their second straight shootout loss in as many games, a 6-5 decision to the Albany Devils. With the loss, the Bears stretched their winless streak to four games (0-1-1-2) and now find themselves five points behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the division lead in the AHL’s East Division.
Things started well for the Bears when Graham Mink garnered the first goal of the contest at 4:11 by masterfully deflecting Patrick McNeill’s point shot by Albany’s keeper, Keith Kinkaid. Mink’s marker was his fourth of the season and incidentally, all four of his tallies have occurred at Giant Center, on the power play, and in the first period.
The home team stretched their lead to 2-0 when defenseman Dmitry Orlov lit the lamp at 11:08 of the opening frame. Orlov, after gathering in the puck behind the Hershey net, went nearly the full length of the ice and evaded three defenders in the process before launching a low laser from just inside the Albany blue line that buzzed by the glove hand of Kinkaid.
The dastardly Devils clawed their way back into the contest later in the session and registered a goal from Nathan Perkovich off a pretty feed from former Bear, Chad Wiseman. They then received a late- period gift from Hershey netminder Braden Holtby in the final ten seconds to tie the game at one after 20 minutes of play.
Midway through the middle frame, Eric Gelinas’ power play strike gave the Devils their first lead of the game, but Chris Bourque’s (4-on-3) power play response sent the game into the final frame knotted at three.
Albany took their second one-goal lead of the game early in the third period, but again, it was another power play goal by Bourque at 7:51 that evened things up. Later in the stanza, Albany’s Tim Sestito gave the visitors another one-goal lead, but once again the Bears responded. This time however, it was Boyd Kane who canned the goal with assistance from Bourque and Orlov to send the game into overtime, and eventually into the shootout.
In the shootout, the Bears took a 1-0 lead after the first round when Jacob Micflikier beat Kinkaid and Holtby halted Wiseman’s bid. However, Kinkaid stopped Hershey’s next three shooters and Holtby allowed three successive Albany shooters to tickle the twine to give the Devils the shootout win.
Notes- Keith Aucoin, who collected an assist on Bourque’s first power play goal, shares the AHL lead in power play assists and currently sits one helper behind Peoria’s T.J. Hensick for the overall league-lead in assists.
Graham Mink has now managed at least one point in six of the seven home games in which he has played this season (4g, 6a).
Mark Howe, the former Philadelphia Flyers great who was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, attended the game as a scout for the Detroit Red Wings.
Defenseman Danny Richmond and forward Matt Pope were Hershey’s healthy scratches, while defenseman Sean Collins and Tomas Kundratek and forwards Ryan Potulny, Matt Ford, and Kyle Greentree were the injury scratches.
The Bears have scored the first goal of the game in 12 of the 15 games that they have scored a goal.