Providence Bruins pushed to the brink after Game 3 loss
The Providence Bruins entered Game 3 of their first-round series against Lehigh Valley with momentum. After playing well enough in Game 1 to consider themselves the better team and nabbing Game 2, the P-Bruins were understandably confident as the series shifted to Allentown.
Maybe they were a bit too confident.
Oskar Lindblom, who was optioned back to Lehigh Valley after the Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round loss to the Penguins, scored twice — one shorthanded, the other on the power-play — while Philippe Myers and Mike Vecchione also scored as the Phantoms moved to within one win of advancing with a 4-1 win over Providence on Friday night at the PPL Center. Austin Czarnik potted the lone goal for the Baby B’s.
Myers got the Phantoms on the board first at 6:05 of the opening frame after Daniel Martel whipped a cross-ice pass to Vecchione close to the near side faceoff circle. Vecchione would make a short dish to Myers, who one-timed a snapshot by Jordan Binnington (30 saves) to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.
The P-Bruins power play, which went 2-for-10 in the two games at the Dunkin Donuts Centr last weekend, had an opportunity to even things up when Tyrell Goulbourne was sent off for roughing for the first penalty in the game at 11:12. Providence’s good fortune turned to misery, however, as Lindblom netted his first with 22 seconds left in the penalty; redirecting with his skate a rebound from a Cole Bardreau shot — and upheld after video review — to give Lehigh Valley the 2-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley’s momentum continued following an early second-period power play. With Ryan Fitzgerald in the box for tripping just 43 seconds into the middle stanza, Lindblom made the P-Bruins pay by tipping home his second of the game past Binnington — on a feed from another demoted Flyer, Travis Sanheim — for the 3-0 lead.
Vastly outplayed at that point (including being outshot 19-6 in the first period), Providence desperately looked for a spark and began throwing all they had at Phantoms netminder Dustin Tokarski. With 6:18 left in the period, Providence finally broke through as Czarnik notched his first of the postseason on the power play from Tommy Cross and Kenny Agostino.
The P-Bruins continued to bring the heat for the rest of the second and into the third, actually outshooting Lehigh Valley 18-5 from the midpoint of the game until about five minutes remaining in the contest. But Tokarski kept the P-Bruins in check with a 32-save outing. Then, with 4:44 left in regulation, Vecchione essentially iced Game 4 with his second of the night.
Head coach Jay Leach pulled Binnington with 2:20 left in one last gasp for a rally, but it was to no avail as Lehigh Valley wrapped up the win and took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Providence went 1-for-5 on the man-advantage and 1-for2 during the penalty kill. Lehigh Valley outshot Providence, 34-33, though the Baby B’s had their chances outshooting the Phantoms 11-9 in the second and 16-6 in the third.
The P-Bruins’ 2017-18 season is on the line Saturday when the two teams square off for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop — again at PPL Center in Allentown — in Game 4.