The Providence Bruins brought a new meaning to delayed penalty upon themselves Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
A rare, long-held 2-0 lead over the Connecticut Whale withstood a second period that saw the Bruins take five minor penalties as opposed to only two by Connecticut. But the P-Bruins were patently spent in the third period, for after Connecticut rolled up a light 15-12 edge in the shooting gallery through 40 minutes, the visitors went on a 19-shot sugar rush and deleted their 2-0 deficit.
In the subsequent shootout, rookie Carl Hagelin buried a backhander in the bottom half of the sixth round, snapping a 1-1 tie and handing Providence a vinegary 3-2 final before an audience of 4,721.
In an otherwise uneventful first period, the P-Bruins drew first blood by converting the afternoon’s first power play at 3:18. Persistence paid for point patrolling specialist Carter Camper, who after repeated failed attempts absorbed a feed from Josh Hennessy and launched another stab that dinked off of Jamie Tardif’s twig and through the roof of the Connecticut cage.
When Tardif repeated his act at 1:27 of the second, converting a carry-over power play, Providence had its first multi-goal lead since its first win of the season back on Oct. 15 in Springfield.
A mere 24 seconds later, though, intermittent flurries of penalties kicked in, slightly in favor of the Whale. Beginning with Ryan Button at 1:51 and ending with Jamie Arniel at 19:17, five individual P-Bruins made unaccompanied trips to the sin bin.
That amounted to a cumulative 8:33 of shorthanded time all within the middle frame, including 70 seconds of 5-on-3 and not counting the 77 seconds of Arniel’s slashing sentence that spilled over into the third.
But the Whale could not hatch the goose-egg in any of that time and the P-Bruins did not permit any tests of goaltender Anton Khudobin through the first four minutes of the third period.
From there on in, however, Connecticut erupted for a 19-3 run in the shooting gallery. Along the way, the Whale smuggled in the two requisite goals to force overtime via Brendan Bell and Jordan Owens.
Tardif nailed his third and fourth 5-on-4 goal in a span of three days after he had endured a six-game goal-less skid over the previous two weekends. During that personal drought, the Providence power play brigade had gone barren in 20 straight opportunities, plus its first three tries against Springfield on Friday. Starting with Tardif’s strike that night, the power play has now converted four of its last nine chances.
Khudobin cannot be faulted much after his workload swelled so much in the latter 15-plus minutes of regulation. Throughout that as well as the precipitating penalty-killing motif of the middle frame, Khudobin’s poise generally translated smoothly to the stats sheet and scoreboard as he foiled every Connecticut power play and at least salvaged a precious point.
Tardif’s linemate Hennessy extended his own point-getting streak and was sharp at the face-off dot most of the time, especially on both sides of the special teams’ spectrum.
A full barrel of blame can be doled out in equal portions strictly amongst all of the penalty takers, whose lack of discipline was ultimately the silent turning point in this one. Ryan Button, Colby Cohen, Matt Bartkowski, Craig Cunningham and Jamie Arniel all variously taxed their teammates in that second period.
As a consequence, in a penalty-free closing frame, 10 different Providence skaters brooked a minus-1 rating as Connecticut lashed its way back. Perhaps fittingly, all five of the aforementioned were among those on the ice for either Whale goal.
With the exception of Cohen, the red-handed five joined forwards Kyle MacKinnon and Kirk MacDonald in not only losing a plus/minus point, but also failing to land any of the P-Bruins’ 20 shots on goal in 65 minutes of action.
Bell, who earned a secondary assist on Owens’ equalizer, was on the ice for all four regulation goals and was the only Connecticut skater to garner a plus-2 rating.
In addition, Bell led all participants with eight shots on goal. That doubled up the output of the closest runners-up as Connecticut’s Carl Hagelin and Blake Parlett each registered four stabs, as did the P-Bruins’ Camper.
Goaltender Cameron Talbot stopped 15 regulation shots, three more in overtime and five out of six in the one-on-ones to claim his second shootout victory of the season.
Rookie defenseman Marc Cantin, summoned back from ECHL Reading earlier in the day after an 11-day reassignment, put in his first AHL appearance since Oct. 30.
Arniel scored the P-Bruins only shootout goal with a bar-down conversion in the third round. That temporarily offered some hope in response to John Mitchell’s opening round strike for Connecticut.