However voluntarily or forcibly it might have been, the Providence Bruins found themselves in a losing battle as they played the Norfolk Admirals’ game en route to granting their guests a 4-2 triumph at the Dunkin Donuts Center Friday night.
Norfolk heaved a grand total of 41 shots at the Providence cage, the most the Baby Bs have dealt with through nine games in the 2011-12 campaign. Nearly half of those came within the opening frame as the tone was set for the Bruins to resort to a purpose-slaying game of catch-up.
The offensively superior Admirals were happily quick to make an OK Corral out of The Dunk from the opening draw, running up a 17-7 edge in the first-period shooting gallery. The game’s first stoppage fell in the form of Carter Ashton’s icebreaker as the Norfolk buried blueliner Radko Gudas’ rebound at the 4:30 mark.
Ashton later launched his linemates on a 2-on-1 that beat both backchecker Colby Cohen and backstop Anton Khudobin. Center Trevor Smith one-timed winger Pierre-Cedric Labrie’s magnetic pass home at 19:26, augmenting the visitors’ edge to 2-0 at intermission.
The P-Bruins failed to land a single shot on goal through the first half of the middle frame while Dana Tyrell granted Norfolk a 3-0 edge at the 2:49 mark. Providence perked back up in the stanza’s waning moments and hit the board with 2:39 to spare as Craig Cunningham smuggled a wraparound within the near post for his first professional goal.
Stefan Chaput closed the gap to within one on a shorthanded break at 4:05 of the third. But less than three minutes later, the Admirals converted on their fourth unanswered power play to restore the two-goal edge via Jeff Dimmen.
Kirk MacDonald and Matt Bartkowski were the lone two Providence to finish in the black under the plus/minus heading.
MacDonald was fresh out the penalty box and had a good read on his team’s breakout, which led to him thrusting the puck into the attacking zone to set up the grind that amounted to Cunningham’s goal. In addition, he led the team with three shots on goal.
With the primary assist on that same play, Bartkowski now has two points within four AHL appearances since last weekend’s reassignment from Boston.
Entering Friday’s game, the P-Bruins had not been held scoreless through the first 40 minutes of a single game this season. Not only did that change in Game No. 9, but they also failed to draw a single opposing penalty through the entire venture.
With only seven shots apiece in the first two periods and eight in the third, the P-Bruins have now been confined to a single-digit SOG bushel in 17 out of 27 full-length frames this season. In each of those 17 cases, it has been eight registered stabs or fewer.
The Providence shot total was brittle, yet balanced. With that being said, Zach Hamill and David Warsofsky were the only two skaters not to test Norfolk stopper Dustin Tokarski. Warsofsky’s desperation to clear the zone also effectively amounted to the Admirals’ last dose of insurance as he lobbed the puck over the glass, then watched Dimmen convert as he served a two-minute sentence for delay of game.
Ashton, who scored the first goal for the fourth time in nine games, completed his Gordie Howe Hat Trick when he dropped the gloves with P-Bruins’ defenseman Zach McKelvie at 3:51 of the third period.
Winger Alexandre Picard collected two assists, getting the secondary helper on Ashton’s icebreaker and setting up Dimmen’s 5-on-4 conversion.
Smith led all participants with six shots on the night.
The P-Bruins’ McKelvie and Norfolk’s Dimmen and Mark Barberio all finished with a minus-2 rating. Barberio’s four shots moved him ahead of the inactive Matt Fornataro for a team-leading 29 SOG on the year.