Entering Friday night’s face-off, the Providence Bruins were already without their top two goal-getters with Zach Hamill (five) on recall to Boston and Stefan Chaput (four) sidelined by an injury.
Through the first 40-plus minutes, they were virtually without the equally leaned-on Max Sauve, who at that point was one of eight Providence skaters still with no registered shots against Manchester Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones.
But with 4:56 to spare in the closing frame, Sauve, whose line with Josh Hennessy and Jamie Tardif have had a hand in each of the last four P-Bruins goals, broke a nightlong 0-0 tie.
Upon burying Hennessy’s rebound on Jones’ porch, Sauve snapped his team’s scoreless drought of 137 minutes and 43 seconds. And he ultimately cemented his team’s first regulation win at the Dunkin Donuts Center this season as the Bruins subsisted on the 1-0 decision before 10,212 uplifted rooters.
For the longest time leading up to Sauve’s strike, it appeared as though things would be all downhill for the P-Bruins’ arid offense, which managed to claim an 11-10 upper hand in the first-period shooting gallery. This coming after they had failed to crack double digits under the SOG heading in the first period of each of their previous four games.
After each team landed seven shots apiece in the second, the Monarchs took three unanswered bids in the first seven minutes of the third period. By the halfway mark, only Jamie Arniel and Kyle MacKinnon, who rode on a stimulating end-to-end breakaway, had pelted Jones.
But after the Monarchs couldn’t penetrate P-Bruins’ backstop Anton Khudobin on eight third-period shots, Sauve made his team’s third try the charm. Another five saves by Khudobin gave him his second goose-egg with the Spoked-Ps.
After being abandoned on several laborious nights and having to work overtime to accomplish the bulk of his recent wins, Khudobin pitched a refreshing 30-save shutout. The No. 1 stopper was fittingly the center of attention in the climactic phases of Friday’s game as he repelled three extra-man shots within the final minute-and-a-half.
Calle Ridderwall didn’t do much on the offensive front, but was heroic on two unanswered penalty kills prior to Sauve’s decider in the third period. In the dying seconds of Lane MacDermid’s sentence in the fifth minute and Hennessy’s sin bin term in the 14th minute, Ridderwall cleared the zone after a blocked shot and upon picking up a threatening rebound.
Matt Bartkowski made his presence felt in multiple ways for the better part of the night, particularly in the opening frame. He threw two attempted shots and getting the first on net on his first shift. Throughout the rest of the opening frame, he could be spotted blocking shots, winning footraces and setting up breakouts on Providence property while thwarting Manchester clearing attempts at the other end.
And, as it happened, he shared a plus-1 rating with partner David Warsofsky and Sauve’s line.
Hennessy has now had a hand in all five the Bruins’ regulation goals in four meetings with the Monarchs, along with the shootout winner last Saturday up at Verizon Wireless Arena.
For the fourth consecutive game, MacDermid was held pointless while committing a minor penalty.
Chris Clark and Craig Cunningham each had two shots on goal in the opening frame, but did not add to that bushel in the 40 minutes thereafter.
Providence had the lone two power plays of a scoreless second period, but mustered only two cumulative shots on those chances. With that, the 5-on-4 brigade is now scoreless on each of its last 13 shifts.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin led all participants with seven shots on goal. Winger Dwight King was a close second with five registered stabs.
Jones, who halted 22 out of 23 shots faced, claimed the game’s No. 3 star accolade.
Colby Cohen, the weightiest of all P-Bruins at 215 pounds, engaged in his first fight of the season and the third of his professional career. He tangled with Ray Kaunisto at the 14:29 mark of the third period, just 35 seconds and one whistle before Sauve’s strike.