The Portland Pirates came up just short on Sunday, with the Florida Panthers AHL affiliate dropping a hard-fought Game 5 to the host Hershey Bears by a 2-1 count. The Bears won the series three games to two and advance to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Atlantic Division Finals.
Hershey's Sean Collins opened the scoring at the 14:19 mark of the first period, with the lone assist going to Liam O'Brien.
The Bears doubled the lead 8:29 into the second period when defenseman Ryan Stanton beat Mike McKenna. Jakub Vrana and Ryan Bourque drew the helpers on Stanton's second of the series.
Wayne Simpson (1) pulled one back for the Pirates with a deflection goal early in the final frame with the assists going to Mike Matheson and Rocco Grimaldi, but goaltender Justin Peters, who finished 23 stops, shut the door the rest of the way.
Peters, who started Game 2 after Portland's 6-3 win over former Panther Dan Ellis in Game 1, was the difference in the series, allowing just one goal after Portland took a 2-1 lead with a road win on Thursday.
Another big reason the Pirates lost was their inability to crack the Bears' penalty kill, which allowed just one power-play goal on 24 opportunities.