PHILADELPHIA -- When you're the top-seeded team in the division and you have home-ice advantage for the series, it's really hard to think about "stealing" a game, but the Hershey Bears did just that Thursday night.
Linemates Andrew Gordon and Kyle Wilson each had a goal and an assist in leading the Bears to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Spectrum in the opening game of their best-of-seven opening round playoff series.
Although the Bears have home-ice advantage, building availability resulted in an odd configuration for the series, a configuration in which the first two games are in Philadelphia before the series returns to Hershey for the next three.
That means the Bears now have four games at Giant Center to win the three it will take to advance while the Phantoms are faced with the prospect of having to win at least two in Hershey.
"It's a tough barn to play in, and especially with our schedule being the way it is, these games are really important," Wilson said. "Taking one from them in their barn, it's really a great start."
"It's just the way we want to get going," Gordon said. "The first game, it sets the tone. If we get the next one, we'll have a stranglehold going home."
It was Gordon who got the Bears going when he scored with a little less than five minutes left in the first period, picking up the rebound of a shot by Wilson that rang off the pipes and sliding it home.
The Phantoms tied the game when Jonathan Matsumoto scored off a 2-on-1 break at 3:21 of the second period. That was as close as the game would get.
Wilson put the Bears back on top 91 seconds into the third period when he took a pass from Gordon and walked across the front of the net, keeping the puck on his stick and away from goalie Scott Munroe before finally tucking it in the corner.
Four minutes later, Oskar Osala, coming down the slot, took a feed from Andrew Joudrey from behind the net and snapped it into an open net when Munroe got caught out of position.
Philadelphia got a goal from Lasse Kukkonen midway through the period but Jay Beagle sealed the victory by taking a feed from Chris Bourque and burying it from the low slot.
"That's a big start," said Hershey coach Bob Woods. "Any time you start a series, it's nice to get that Game 1."