Well, at least the Providence Bruins scraped out a man-up goal of some sorts. And at least they got it when there were points to harvest out of it.
After trailing the visiting Worcester Sharks by two goals in two stretches (albeit one that barely lasted a minute) and failing to close the gap on each of five power-play opportunities, the P-Bruins pulled even during a 6-on-5 attack in the dying moments of regulation. Jamie Tardif’s extra-man conversion drew a 3-3 knot and set the stage for an eventual 4-3 shootout triumph before 6,869 fans at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
Tardif’s timely equalizer, followed by Jamie Arniel and Carter Camper’s one-on-one strikes, allowed the once 0-3-0 P-Bruins to surge right back to the .500 fence and all but instantaneously quelled any young notion of a Shark-dominated season series. The latter matter was certainly present in the atmosphere for the better part of regulation.
By the end of the first period, Worcester forward Curt Gogol’s transcript for the night already matched that of the Sharks’ previous visit to Providence 12 days prior. He had taken two shots on net, sustained seven penalty minutes through a fight and a set of coincidental minors and scored the first goal, drawing first blood at 10:31.
Less than three minutes later, on his team’s first power-play of the night, Nathan Moon augmented Worcester’s lead to 2-0 by burying the remnants of Brad Mashinter’s bid.
Afforded a carry-over power play with 28 seconds till intermission, then 39 seconds worth of 5-on-3 time in the first minute of the middle frame, the Providence strike force chose to defer gratification. But over a span of 5:37, the Bruins went on a 7-0 run in the shooting gallery before Lane MacDermid converted on their eighth unanswered try at 6:14, whittling the deficit in half to 2-1.
Over the next nine minutes, Worcester took 12 of the period’s remaining 15 shots, but Providence stopper Anton Khudobin kept it a one-goal difference. And neither side registered another stab within the last four-and-a-half minutes of action before the second intermission.
Each team struck on their first shot of the closing frame. Mike Connolly augmented the Sharks’ edge to 3-1 at the 28-second mark, only to have Calle Ridderwall retort on the P-Bruins’ behalf 72 ticks later.
Ridderwall and linemates Craig Cunningham and Zach Hamill were involved in a multitude of subsequent bids for the equalizer, but that wouldn’t arrive until goaltender Anton Khudobin gave way to the six-pack attack. With 30 ticks to spare in regulation, the previously stifled Tardif guided Matt Bartkowski’s bid home, forcing bonus action.
The Sharks promise to deploy one of the AHL’s tougher laser-beams on the defensive front this season, as evidenced early in Worcester’s first two outings. For that reason alone, it was no small feat for the Bruins to have landed 24 shots on Tyson Sexsmith’s property before the second intermission. That was four more than Providence had mustered in all of its prior meeting with Worcester and eight more than the Sharks authorized in a full 60 minutes against Albany.
For themselves, the P-Bruins charged up a season-high 33 shots through the end of regulation.
Stefan Chaput, a healthy scratch in three of the first five games this season, played a vital role in what was ultimately a point-saving penalty kill late in the third. During one sequence, he decked attacker Matt Irwin and took it upon himself to spoon the puck out of the zone. Chaput also logged his first shot on net and first plus-1 outing of the young season.
Amidst the refreshingly prolific shooting spree that saw Providence tack on those 24 SOG in the first 40 minutes, Josh Hennessy and Tardif were conspicuous by their absence. The two veterans obtained over the summer were among the five P-Bruins not to have chipped in up to that point. And that included three power plays and the brief 5-on-3, wherein they could have built upon their man-up icebreakers from last weekend.
Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk took a slight step back from his impressive welcome-back weekend, finishing with zero shots and a minus-1 rating. Meanwhile, Colby Cohen’s flagrant turnover aided in Connolly’s third-period goal and just might have ultimately given Worcester a valuable point in the Atlantic Division standings.
Forward Tony Lucia and defenseman Sena Acolatse each made their season debuts for Worcester.
With the secondary assist on Gogol’s icebreaker, Connolly finished the night with a 1-1-2 log along with a plus-2 rating.
Blueliner Justin Braun led all Sharks with six of the team’s 42 shots on net. Mike Moore was the only Worcesterian with no registered stabs, but was credited with an assist on Moon’s power-play conversion.
Arniel led the P-Bruins with seven regulation shots and added an eighth bid in the dying seconds of overtime, strolling into the Sharks zone and letting one plop from a distance into the crease. Sexsmith recovered in time to prevent any rebound threats.
Randell, who engaged Gogol, and Lane MacDermid each picked up their second fighting majors of the season. MacDermid finished the night with nine penalty minutes, having also gone off with Gogol for coincidental unsportsmanlike conduct minors and a hooking infraction that effectively amounted to Worcester’s second goal.