Do the Providence Bruins have some psychological aversion to working a puck over a fresh sheet of ice? If so, it very well may have come back to bite them Sunday afternoon, when Zach Hamill scrambled to delete a pair of one-goal deficits, only to concede the extra point in overtime to the visiting Albany Devils before 5,072 rooters at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
In each full-length, regulation stanza on the day, the P-Bruins failed to land more than two shots on goal within the first 10 minutes. Outside of the opening frame, they took no more than one within the first five minutes of a center-ice draw.
And in the bite-sized bonus round, the Devils once again bolted off the draw as defensemen Matt Taormina and Matthew Corrente sent Tim Sestito off to insert the walkoff strike at the 12-second mark, finalizing the 3-2 decision.
Leading up to the halfway mark of the opening frame, Albany had registered an 8-2 edge in the shooting gallery with prolific puckslinger Steve Zalewski beating Bruins’ stopper Anton Khudobin at 5:25, only six seconds after Kevan Miller’s cross-checking penalty expired.
But then, in a span of six minutes, Providence went on a 9-3 run, the bulk of those shots coming on the Bruins’ second power play when Albany blueliner Brandon Burlon went off for high-sticking at 9:59.
In the sixteenth minute, the burgeoning Carter Camper broke up an Albany swarm and handed things over to the freshly reassigned Jordan Caron. In turn, Caron hustled to the other end and found Zach Hamill, who cut in to beat Clermont through the five-hole for the equalizer at 15:35.
Three unanswered Providence penalties permitted the Devils to get the majority of the looks through the first three quarters of the middle frame. But Khudobin handled everything in reasonably digestible fashion. Devils’ stopper Maxime Clermont did the same when the Bruins perked back up late, thus keeping the 1-1 deadlock intact through another intermission.
After Dan Kelly renewed Albany’s lead at 2:46 of the closing frame, the Bruins stalled once again, but crammed in the latter half of the period. Then in a sequence reminiscent of Zalewski’s icebreaker, Devils’ defender Eric Gelinas was fresh out of the box when blueliners Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky were busy churning the puck along the points.
Cohen returned the puck to Hamill, who laced in a backhander with 6:54 to spare in regulation, ultimately extending the P-Bruins’ point-getting streak to five games at 4-0-1.
Early and often, particularly in the aftermath of Zalewski’s icebreaker, Albany was pressuring aggressively and flustering multiple Bruins’ breakout attempts. Seeing that the Devils were canoeing smoothly on momentum early, Khudobin proceeded to fluster them by getting quick whistles on most every shot he faced over the latter half of the stanza.
Since going pointless during the team’s acrid, winless three-game homestand to start the season, Hamill has now run up a 4-3-7 scoring log in his last five outings. In each of those five games, he has landed at least two shots on goal and taken no penalties.
Before Craig Cunningham was flagged for hooking at 11:45 of the second period, Miller was taking the brunt of the Bruins’ penalties. The rookie blueliner took three trips to the box for cross-checking early in the opening frame and for a pair of high-sticking infractions within the first five minutes of the second.
Speaking of rookie defensemen, Sunday was yet another rough outing for the unit of Marc Cantin and Zach McKelvie. They had a minus-2 rating apiece and McKelvie’s turnover to J.S. Berube effectively amounted to the Devils’ second goal.
Clermont won his professional debut with a 28-save effort. Corrente garnered the primary assist on the game’s first and final goals.
Zalewski matched an AHL career high with eight shots on goal. He had previously landed eight SOG against Binghamton last Sunday, an identical number against the B-Sens on Feb. 19 of last season and as a member of the Worcester Sharks against the Lowell Devils on Oct. 17, 2009.
Hamill donned a P-Bruins jersey for the 223rd time in his career, thus tying himself with Bill Armstrong for eighth on the franchise’s all-time games-played leaderboard. Andy Hilbert is next in the No. 7 slot with 234 career appearances with Providence.
Jamie Arniel once again led Providence in the shooting gallery with five registered stabs at the opposing net. Carter Camper and Kyle MacKinnon followed with four shots apiece.
On the ice for the opponent’s walkoff strike, Tyler Randell matched Cantin and McKelvie’s minus-2 rating. Conversely, Berube, Corrente and Taormina all mustered a plus-2 for Albany.
Sunday was the first of three straight non-divisional games for the P-Bruins. They will host the Norfolk Admirals this Friday and travel to Bridgeport the following night.