The Hershey Bears led early, but the Binghamton Devils, for the second consecutive night, left the ice with a 4-2 victory over the Bears Saturday, to sweep the home-and-home contests.
The loss, combined with Hartford’s shootout win in Lehigh Valley, has the Wolfpack and the Bears tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Hershey has played one more game so they trail Hartford in percentage points (.654/.642).
Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Binghamton capitalized on its sixth power-play chance of the night, in the third period for the eventual game-winning goal.
The opening stanza featured the special teams with Hershey scoring the only goal on their first power-play chance when Matt Moulson put the Bears in front 1-0 on his team-leading 19th goal at 1:44. Christian Djoos and Philippe Maillet set up the play.
Hershey’s penalty killers survived a full 5-on-3 disadvantage later in the period. Erik Burgdoerfer received a match penalty, five minute major and game misconduct for an illegal check to the head at 12:55, and Bobby Nardella was whistled for delay of game less than a minute later.
An aggressive penalty kill of the 5-on-3 and Binghamton’s full major power play kept Hershey up 1-0 after 20 minutes.
“We were down a man early because of the major penalty and had to kill off more than eight minutes and we got through it but we kept making mistakes,” Hershey coach Spencer Carberry said in his post-game remarks. “We have to find a way to get the job done, even if it isn’t pretty.
“We’re going to have to dig in because we’re going through a little adversity right now. We have a lot of young players who have to learn this is a tough game. Binghamton is playing really well now and has a lot of firepower.”
Jesper Boqvist, who scored twice Friday night in Binghamton, tied the game at 1:11 of the second period with some clever stick work for a nifty shot that eluded Vitek Vanecek to even the score.
At 6:36, Kyle Cumiskey gave Binghamton its first lead after finishing a pass from ex-Bear Chris Conner. Five minutes later Moulson connected with Maillet, who buried his 13th of the season at 11:31 to make it 2-2 heading into the final stanza.
Garrett Pilon was whistled for a boarding penalty at 12:45 and the Devils capitalized on a lively bounce off the end wall. Mikhail Maltsev won a race to the loose puck before Vanecek could track it down for his eighth goal of the season at 14:30.
“I just thought there were a lot of moments tonight where we didn’t do a very good job of managing the points of the game and finding a way to get through a shift in the offensive zone,” Carberry said. “We were trying to gut our way through the game, so for Sunday’s game we’re just going to manage minutes to be as fresh as we can be.”
With Vanecek on the bench for an extra skater, Brett Seney located Hershey’s empty net at 17:43 for the 4-2 final.
Hershey’s penalty kill finished 5-for-6, with the lone goal against being the game-winner. Hershey’s record moves to 31-16-3-3.
The Bears wrap up three games in three nights on Sunday with a 5 p.m. meeting against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It’s the tenth of 12 match-ups between the Bears and Phantoms, with the Bears winning seven of the previous nine games against Lehigh Valley.