The Calder Cup playoff race remains tight and the Providence Bruins aren’t doing themselves any favors.
The P-Bruins, sitting third in the Atlantic Division with 58 points, dropped an important two-game set to Bridgeport this past weekend. They now sit a mere one point ahead of the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers and the fifth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the final two divisional playoff spots.
Slow Start Dooms Providence in Connecticut
The P-Bruins put themselves in a big hole early, spotting Bridgeport with a 3-0 lead in the first game of the home and home. Colin McDonald netted his second of the year from Mason Jobst just 3:23 into the contest. Jobst and McDonald teamed up again to burn the P-Bruins 2:48 later with the former scoring his fourth of the year and the latter tallying a primary assist. Bridgeport struck again on Simon Holmstrom’s fourth of the season, thus ending Max Legace’s night early with 3:22 left in the opening stanza.
Providence came out strong in the second period, throwing 16 shots on net during the 20-minute stretch. Brendan Woods tried to spark the Baby B’s early in the period, dropping the gloves with Bridgeport’s Seth Helgeson. Yet, despite three power-play attempts in the middle 20, they couldn’t find the back of the net as Chris Gibson (44 saves), held strong to secure the 3-0 advantage heading into the final stanza.
Finally, Jack Studnicka, the AHL’s reigning player of the week, put Providence on the board with his 18th goal — an unassisted shorthanded tally — to cut the Bridgeport lead to 3-1 at 7:14 of the third.
Providence continued to buzz, generating chances to cut into the lead. They found themselves within striking distance with under four minutes left as Woods cut the deficit to one with his eighth goal of the season; Alex Petrovic and Paul Carey assisting. But the Sound Tigers stopped the P-Bruins in their tracks in the final moments as Robert Carpenter netted his first of the year on an empty-netter to secure the 4-2 victory. Dan Vladar stopped all 14 shots that came his way in relief.
Bridgeport caps off the weekend sweep in OT
With the home-and-home shifting to the Dunkin Donuts Center the very next night, Providence picked up where they left off, coming out blistering the SoundTigers net with 13 shots. And they struck first midway through the opening stanza with Zach Senyshyn netting his fourth of the year from Woods and Brendan Gaunce.
But the lead wouldn’t last long. Parker Wotherspoon scored 54 seconds later at 10:58 to even things up at 1-1.
Vladar (25 saves) and Jared Coreau (35 saves) each made clutch stops in an entertaining goaltending duel for the rest of regulation. Captain Paul Carey also provided a boost in a rare fight with Wotherspoon late in the second.
The P-Bruins had a late power-play opportunity with 2:28 remaining, but Steven Kampfer washed the golden chance after committing a tripping minor a mere 37 seconds later.
Providence killed off the remaining nine seconds of the penalty in the extra frame before firing the first three shots in overtime. But Grant Hutton netted his fifth of the season — on Bridgeport’s first shot in the extra session — with 1:10 left to secure the sweep.
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