After the one period of play, it looked as if the P-Bruins were all but dead. Then, they rose from the ashes.
Down 2-0 in a must-win Game 6 Tuesday night in Hershey, Providence countered with four unanswered goals, coming away with a 4-2 road win and forcing a decisive Game 7 tonight in Pennsylvania.
After another sluggish start, similar to what had cost them Sunday in Game 4, Providence was in a 2-0 hole after 20 minutes of play, registering only nine shots on goal and going 0-for-2 on the power-play.
It wouldn’t take long after the intermission for Providence to get its legs. Danton Heinen potted his fifth of the playoffs just 37 seconds into the middle frame thanks to a lucky bounce off a Hershey defenseman after Austin Czarnik fanned on the initial attempt. The puck would sit at the top of the crease where Heinen would nudge it past Vitek Vanecek (30 saves) to cut the Hershey lead in half.
A short time later, the Bears saw their lead evaporate as Colton Hargrove netted his second goal of the playoffs on a beautiful setup from Chris Porter at 6:18. Ryan Fitzgerald’s strong forecheck set up the events that led to the tying goal.
Providence and Hershey traded chances during the duration of the period, with each team having their fair share of opportunities. Hershey got the benefit of a Porter tripping penalty, but could not take advantage after Zane McIntyre (26 saves) robbed Dustin Gazley all alone to keep things tied at 2-2.
The P-Bruins had a solid chance of their own when Alex Grant’s shot rang off the post. Heinen scrambled for the ensuing loose puck but it was knocked away before he could get a stick on it.
But late in the second, Providence broke through and took the lead for good. A great individual effort from Colby Cave led to Porter’s go-ahead goal with 23 seconds left in the middle stanza. Cave picked up the puck in the neutral zone and rushed it behind the Hershey net where he found a charging Porter to finish the deal for his fourth of the playoffs.
Desperate for the equalizer, Hershey came out strong for the first half of the third. But Providence was able to hold them off, and at 12:04, Czarnik netted his third of the postseason to give his team some much-needed breathing room at 4-2. A pinching Jake DeBrusk and an assertive Noel Acciari tallied the assists.
Hershey continued to press, receiving two power-play opportunities, including a Tommy Cross interference penalty at 18:37 that led to a six-on-four. But McIntyre made nine saves in the period and Providence to secure the 100th playoff win in franchise history and force a winner take all seventh game tonight in the ‘Chocolate City.’
Chris Bourque, who gave Hershey a 2-0 lead with 30 seconds left in the opening frame, kept his hot streak going with a two-point night. Bourque also assisted on Chandler Stephenson’s opening tally at 5:02 of the first.