BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to the Hershey Bears in Game 5 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals on Saturday, which ended their 2018-19 season. Brian Pinho scored the series-winner at 10:27 of the extra frame on a partial breakaway for his first playoff goal.
The Bears took the best-of-five series 3-2 in front of 5,253 fans at Webster Bank Arena.
Matt Lorito and Oliver Wahlstrom each scored in regulation, while Christopher Gibson (2-2) made 31 saves on 34 shots in more than 70 minutes of work.
Lorito put the Sound Tigers out front 1-0 for the first time in the series with his second straight goal following Thursday’s overtime winner in Game 4. Steve Bernier helped create chaos in front with a flurry of chances against goaltender Ilya Samsonov before Sebastian Aho settled a loose puck and dished it to Lorito between the circles. The fourth-year forward received the pass and quickly wristed a shot past Samsonov’s reaching glove for his second goal of the postseason.
Bridgeport outshot Hershey 13-7 in the first period and led after 20 minutes, but the Bears bounced back with a two-goal second. Steve Whitney converted a 2-on-1 rush at the 6:43 mark to tie the game 1-1 when he beat Gibson for his first goal of the playoffs. The Sound Tigers failed to capitalize on an odd-man sequence just prior to that, before Jayson Megna hustled the other way and found Whitney for a one-time tally.
Wahlstrom put the Sound Tigers back on top at 12:07 of the middle frame when he directed a missile of a wrist shot into the bottom right corner of the cage. Kieffer Bellows skated across the high slot and cut to the right circle, dipping his shoulder to carve in. He was slowed by a Bears defenseman and dropped the puck for Wahlstrom, where he set up above the circle and wired a wrister low, short side.
Hershey scored its only power-play goal of the series less than four minutes later to knot the contest at 2-2. Mitch Vande Sompel was called for cross-checking 23 seconds prior and the Bears cashed in with Riley Barber’s one-timer in the slot following Megna’s centering-pass.
The Sound Tigers outshot the visitors 10-9 in the third period, but both goaltenders were lights out in a fast-paced, high-stakes third period. Chris Bourque nearly put one in midway through the frame, but drew iron on a slap shot that had Samsonov fooled. Gibson also made a remarkable, stretched-out pad save in the final three minutes.
In overtime, Garrett Pilon guided a stretch pass to Pinho, who inched ahead on a partial breakaway and scored just inside the right post. It was the first time Hershey potted more than three goals in the series.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-1 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill. Samsonov (2-1) had 29 saves for the Bears, while Hershey won the shot battle 34-31.
Lorito and Wahlstrom finished with a team-high four points during the series.