As has been the case all weekend, the Providence Bruins outshot Hershey over the course of three-plus periods. But, like Thursday’s Game 3, it wasn’t enough.
Massachusetts natives Chris Bourque and Paul Carey both scored in regulation while Madison Bowey’s wrist shot beat Zane McIntyre from the right side just 1:58 into overtime lifted the Bears to a 3-2 win, and thus, a 3-2 lead in the series heading back to Hershey.
In a relatively even first period that saw the P-Bruins hold a slight 7-6 edge in shots on goal, it was Hershey who got off to the early 1-0 lead. Bourque netted his fifth of the playoffs at 11:12 of the first, tipping in a Tyler Lewington shot. It also happened to be the first goal that McIntyre (14 saves) has given up in the opening period this postseason.
The beginning of the second saw Providence receive quality scoring chances. They were finally able to cash in when Tommy Cross flipped a backhander past Hershey goalie Vitek Vanecek – starting in place of the injured Pheonix Copley – to tie the score at 1-1 at 3:59. Hershey would grab the lead right back as Carey tallied his first of the postseason to give the Bears a 2-1 edge.
Despite outshooting the Bears for the second straight period – a 13-6 advantage – the P-Bruins were still searching for consistency in all three zones.
“It’s unacceptable,” a disappointed Kevin Dean said about the P-Bruins effort in the first two periods despite outshooting Hershey 20-12 in that span. “The first 40 minutes wasn’t very good. No energy. Terrible forecheck.”
But Providence persisted, and at 9:18 of the third, evened things up at 2-2 when Austin Czarnik banked home a rebound off Noel Acciari’s shot.
After a relatively slow start, the Baby B’s seemed to get their legs back underneath them in the third. Providence continued to press on in the waning minutes of regulation, but Vanecek (29 saves) did his best Copley impression and stood on his head, sending the game into overtime for the third time in the series, where Providence hasn’t had much luck.
It wouldn’t get any better. Not even two minutes into the extra frame, Hershey would make a discombobulated Providence team pay when Bowey’s shot from the point beat McIntyre for the game-winner. Bourque, the Game 3 hero, set up Bowey’s attempt and tallied his 81st career playoff assist, making him the AHL’s all-time leader in that category.
“Against this team, if you start running around, leaving your spot to do someone else’s job, they’re going to expose you,″ Dean said of the overtime goal.
In order for the P-Bruins to take the next two games in Hershey, starting Tuesday night, the key, according to Dean, is to simply finish their chances and get off to a better start.
“We had the chances at 16-11, in our favor. You’ve got to score on some of those chances,” Dean said. “It seems like they need three chances to score a goal and we need about 10 to score. We had at least three breakaways, a couple of half breakaways. Those are pretty good looks. You’ve got to score on one of those.
“We’ve got to find our legs like we did in the third. Our third was terrific. That’s how we’ve got to come out of the gate on Tuesday night.”
One aspect of chances Providence needs to cash in on is the power-play, which went scoreless again in three tries.
With the overtime defeat, Providence has now lost eight consecutive playoff contests during the extra session.