Hughes is OT Hero as Pack Eliminate BruinsMay 1, 2015
Tommy Hughes scored his first career pro playoff goal at 4:35 of overtime Friday night at the XL Center, to give the Wolf Pack a 3-2 win over the Providence Bruins in Game Five of the teams’ first-round playoff series, and a three-games-to-two triumph in the series.
The Wolf Pack now advance to meet either the Hershey Bears or the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-final round.
Chris Mueller scored twice for Hartford in Friday’s Game Five, and Oscar Lindberg assisted on all three Wolf Pack goals. Chris Bourque had two assists and Yann Danis made 38 saves. Colin Stuart and Tommy Cross scored for Providence, and Seth Griffith had two assists. Jeremy Smith made 39 saves in the Bruin net.
The Bruins broke the scoreless game in the second period, after taking advantage of a rebound opportunity. Danis tried to play the puck behind the net, but the Bruins had men along the boards in the corner. Griffith stopped the pass and fired a shot on net as Danis was getting back to his crease. Stuart jammed the puck away from Danis and in, to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead.
“I just didn’t play it hard enough, high enough, and played it right to their guy,” said Danis. “Obviously it was a mistake, but they happen.”
The power play unit stepped up at the right to for the Wolf Pack to tie the game at 1. After the unit patiently moved the puck around, Carl Klingberg centered the puck to Lindberg. One of Lindberg’s rebound opportunities went to the side of the net, where Mueller was there to bury it.
“Finally our power play cashed in,” said Mueller. “It’s not just about scoring. It’s about creating momentum, and I thought on the first power play we created a little momentum. We were fortunate to get a four-minute (man advantage) and we cashed in at the end. Good play by [Lindberg] to take it to the net.”
The Bruins’ power play unit was able to take advantage of their first opportunity to give them a 2-1 lead. With some traffic in front of Danis (38 saves), Cross fired a slapshot that found the back of the net for his first point of the series, at 7:36 of the third.
With 46 seconds left in regulation, Mueller tied the game up with his second goal of the game. The Pack had another power play opportunity with just 1:34 remaining in regulation. It was Lindberg, with his back to the boards, who sent a crossing pass to Mueller. Mueller fired the shot before Smith (39 saves) could get across his crease.
“That was a perfect shot,” said Danis. “It’s a hard shot [to stop]. Obviously a one-timer, you try to find through traffic and the puck goes across, you have to slide across. He did a good job. He was quick. He (Smith) was there, but [Mueller] just put it in the right spot.”
Hughes was the man who sealed the victory for the Pack. Hughes drove to the net and fired a low shot off of Smith’s pad. Smith made the first save, but Hughes found the puck as he was crossing the crease and snuck the puck past him to seal the series victory.
“He (Hughes) joked that he used to play forward when he was little and he had 32 goals, so maybe that was the one shift this year that it came out,” said Mueller. “I don’t care who it was, and it’s pretty special when it’s a stay-at-home D-man. Last year (with the Calder Cup-champion Texas Stars), our stay-at-home D-man clinched it for us on a similar goal, so it’s pretty special when that happens because one, they don’t know how to celebrate, and two, it’s pretty special. It’s just a fun goal.”
Hughes was an unlikely person to put the Pack through to the next round, and his first thought wasn’t to go for the game-winner either.
“I was originally going to dump it in, and then I kind of saw a little avenue to the net and I’m lucky I held on to it,” said Hughes. “It was the second shot that went in. There wasn’t really a first shot. It was just kind of a direction at the net. He kind of poked it right in to the slot and I pounced on the rebound.
“It’s great for him, it’s great for everybody in that room,” said Hartford coach Ken Gernander. “There’s nobody that went through the season unscathed, or without some adversity, or injury, or personal sacrifice. I guess Tommy would just be representative of the bunch.”
Providence Bruins 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3 (OT)
Friday, May 1, 2015 - XL Center
Providence 0 1 1 0 - 2
Hartford 0 1 1 1 - 3
1st Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Flick Pro (tripping), 2:39.
2nd Period-1, Providence, Stuart 1 (Griffith), 7:55. 2, Hartford, Mueller 1 (Lindberg, Klingberg), 17:27 (PP). Penalties-Morrow Pro (double minor - high-sticking), 14:11.
3rd Period-3, Providence, Cross 1 (Spooner, Griffith), 7:36 (PP). 4, Hartford, Mueller 2 (Lindberg, C. Bourque), 19:14 (PP). Penalties-O'Donnell Hfd (interference), 6:30; Khokhlachev Pro (goaltender interference), 10:12; Skjei Hfd (cross-checking), 12:11; Mueller Hfd (tripping), 16:56; Carey Pro (hooking), 18:26.
OT Period-5, Hartford, Hughes 1 (Lindberg, C. Bourque), 4:35. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Providence 11-13-11-5-40. Hartford 9-15-15-3-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Providence 1 / 3; Hartford 2 / 5.
Goalies-Providence, Smith 1-2-0 (42 shots-39 saves). Hartford, Danis 3-1-0 (40 shots-38 saves).
Referees-T.J. Luxmore (49), Evgeny Romasko (6).
Linesmen-Trent Knorr (63), Luke Galvin (2).