HARTFORD – The Hershey Bears got the better of a late third-period goal-scoring flurry against the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the XL Center, scoring three goals in the final 2:03 on the way to a 4-2 win.
The loss snapped a six-game home winning streak for the Wolf Pack, who were playing their first game back on home ice after a six-game road trip.
Nathan Walker had two goals, including the game-winner, for Hershey, and Jeremy Langlois added a goal and an assist. Cole Schneider had a goal and an assist for the Wolf Pack.
After a scoreless first period, Walker scored the game’s first goal at 4:31 into the second period, with assists coming from Langlois and Wayne Simpson. Walker credited Simpson for the goal, which came on a screened shot. “It was Simpson that was in front, and when guys play like that it definitely makes it a lot easier to shoot the puck and pick your spots where the goalie can’t see a lot. So it was a great job by him,” Walker said
Nevertheless, the Wolf Pack showed that they were willing to rise to the challenge before the period expired. With 1:15 left on the clock, Schneider found the back of the net to tie the game at one, scoring his 300th career AHL point. Schneider’s goal was assisted by Ryan Sproul and Filip Chytil.
That was all the scoring, until the teams exploded for a combined four goals in ninety seconds inside the final 2:03 of the game.
At 17:57, former Wolf Pack captain Joe Whitney snuck a shot past Wolf Pack goaltender Chris Nell, after a faceoff win by Travis Boyd, to give Hershey the lead.
After that Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge made the decision to pull Nell to give Hartford an extra skater. The decision paid dividends, as Scott Kosmachuk was able to score at 18:23, just 26 seconds after Whitney’s goal, and tie the game at 2-2.
That tie, though, lasted only nine seconds, as Walker was able to get loose in the Hartford zone after the ensuing faceoff, and score his second of the night at 18:32. That would prove to be the game-winner, and Langlois added an empty-net goal with 32.4 seconds left to make the final score 4-2.
McCambridge said after the game, “The ending was one where you’d like to at least get one point out of the game. I felt like we had a good grasp on the game and were getting some good scoring chances, but we had some breakdowns. I didn’t mind what we were generating. I thought we were turning the puck over too many times, and the ice was tilted the wrong way for periods of time, but I thought we had some good looks as well.
“It’s just those pressure situations where you learn,” he added. “The more experience you get at the pro level, the better you get at playing under pressure situations.”
Hartford hosts the Providence Bruins tonight at 7.