P-Bruins top Phantoms in overtime, 3-2

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P-Bruins top Phantoms in overtime, 3-2

PROVIDENCE, RI It would have been a shame had the Providence Bruins not pulled out a game they completely dominated, so overtime provided a happy ending for the P-Bruins en route to a six-point weekend.

Fourth line winger Kyle MacKinnon potted the overtime game-winner for Providence just 70 seconds into the extra frame, and the Bruins took a 3-2 win over a talented Adirondack Phantoms club at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Veteran P-Bruins forward Jamie Tardif added a pair of goals and Chris Bourque had two assists for Providence while they outshot the Phantoms by a 47-26 margin.

We had a chance to put them away early and didnt, but we really hung in there, said P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. We had to re-group a little, but we worked really hard and had a lot of really good chances. Im happy for the guys. Theyre working hard.

But were a little like parent club in Boston, we need all 12 forwards to be successful. It was a great weekend for Kyle MacKinnon.

Providence opened up the scoring in the first period on a pure hustle play by Tardif. The Bs forward threw his body at the mid-ice boards to block a Phantoms clearing attempt, and then managed to parlay the defensive play into an odd-man rush going in the other direction. Tardif looked off the trailing P-Bruins skater and fired a snap-shot over Scott Munroes glove hand for his ninth goal of the season.

Tye McGinn tied it up for the Phantoms when Colby Cohen and Ryan Button collided at center ice and opened up an attack lane for the Adirondack attackers. The P-Bruins again seized the lead in the second period on a power play with Chris Bourque wheeling through the high slot area. Bourque turned and fired a perfect pass to Ryan Spooner for the one-timer, and Tardif pumped in the Munroe rebound on a dogged play in front of the cage for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.

A poorly timed Justin Florek holding penalty led to Adirondacks game-tying goal for Jeff Dimmen with less than six minutes to go in the third period on a pretty passing play, and pushed both clubs into overtime. The P-Bruins jumped all over the Phantoms in the extra session with Bourque starting the play in the Adirondack zone. He worked the puck to Matt Bartkowski behind the Phantoms net, and the Bruins defenseman found MacKinnon crashing the net. The Bs fourth line forward snapped a shot past Munroe for the game-winner, and pushed a streaking Providence club to a 5-0-1 record in their last six games.

GOLD STAR: Jamie Tardif scored a pair of goals one in each of the first two periods with both coming courtesy of superior hustle and dogged determination. The first was a clearing attempt blocked against the neutral zone boards that was a great example of Tardif turning defense into offense. He transformed the turnover into a top-shelf wrist shot over the Phantom goalies glove hand to open the scoring. Tardif kept it up in the second period when he crashed the net on the Providence power play and stuffed a Ryan Spooner one-timer rebound in for his 10th goal of the season. Tardif leads the P-Bruins in goals scored and has been one of their most consistent performers on the top two lines.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kyle MacKinnon finished the weekend with his first three goals of the AHL season after potting 14 for the P-Bruins last year, and snapped home the game-winner in overtime during four-on-four play. The versatile MacKinnon finished with two shots on net and a plus-1 on Sunday afternoon, but saved his best for the game-winning shot he buried after a beautiful pass from behind the net by defenseman Matt Bartkowski. MacKinnon isnt quite as heralded as some of Providences other forwards, but he was one of the big factors in their perfect six-point weekend.

BLACK EYE: Justin Florek recently potted his first goal of the AHL season, but the Bruins forward continues to struggle overall for the Providence Bruins. Florek finished with a single shot on net while not really registering as a blip on the radar screen for much of the game. The only remarkable event was taking a bad holding penalty with six minutes to go in the third period that led to Adirondacks game-tying power play score while pushing the overtime session. Florek is obviously still young and in need of development, but isnt off to a very good start with one goal and four points in 19 games as a fourth line winger.

TURNING POINT: Things could have fallen apart for Providence after they frittered away a third period lead on a power play goal courtesy of an ill-timed Justin Florek penalty. A week earlier the P-Bruins dominated the game, but allowed their opposition to push things to overtime before falling in the shootout. Instead Providence didnt let that happen this time around and attacked Adirondack in overtime before scoring the game-winner just 1:10 into the extra session. It was important for Providence to get aggressive in overtime after sitting back in the third period, and they did exactly that while securing the two points.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0-1 Providences record in their last six games as they passed the .500 mark and are playing their best hockey of the AHL season. The P-Bruins took home wins over Manchester, Worcester and Adirondack this weekend.

QUOTE TO NOTE: The last five or six games hes really become involved. Last night he scored the tying goal when he joined the rush and fired one top shelf. Last week he threw one in front that became a tip for Christian Hanson. Hes making some plays now and getting confident at both ends of the rink. P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on Matt Bartkowski, who authored the pass on Sundays game-winner and has been playing exemplary hockey for the last few weeks.

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

CLEVELAND -- Marcus Smart made shots, Jonas Jerebko (10 points) outscored the entire Cleveland second unit by himself, and Kevin Love’s hot hand in the first half cooled off considerably in the second.

It was on so many levels the perfect storm for the Boston Celtics in Game 3 which ended with Avery Bradley getting a friendly bounce or two – OK, it was four bounces to be exact – that would be the difference in Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win, which cut Cleveland’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

But that perfect storm is now a thing of the past, which is why the Celtics are battening down the hatches for Hurricane James – LeBron James – in Game 4.

James scored just 11 points in Game 3 on 4-for-13 shooting.

Certainly, Boston’s defense had a role in James’ struggles.

But after looking to be a facilitator at the start of the game, James never flipped the switch to become a terminator.

So, as his teammates struggled with their shots in the second half, James didn’t ratchet up his aggression level to get buckets and in doing so, was just what the Celtics needed to get a much-needed victory.

Had Boston lost Game 3, this series being over would have been a mere formality with no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of play.

But the Celtics are very much alive and well with a chance to even up the series at 2-2 with a victory tonight.

If they are to somehow find a way to beat the Cavs on their home floor a second straight game, it’ll most likely come after fending off a strong surge from James.

This season, James has been an offensive power following games in which he has scored less than 20 points in a game.

In the following game after he scores less than 20 points, James has averaged 27.8 points.

And his record in those games during the regular season was 10-3.

“He’s going to be aggressive,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what his team needs from him. He’s most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It’s our job to make sure we defend him as best we can; take other guys out of the game.”

Like Tristan Thompson who had 18 points but only took four shots (he made 3) to get it, as most of his scoring came from the free throw line after getting fouled.

“He had 12 free throws or something like that? He’s playing well for them,” Bradley said. ‘We have to try and limit him to less rebounds. It’s going to be hard. If we’re able to do that and guard the 3, I like our chances.”

Boston’s Al Horford anticipates seeing not just James but the entire Cavs roster try to be more aggressive at the start.

And that means as good as they did in Game 3, they’ll have to be even better tonight.

“On the defensive end, we feel there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement,” Horford told CSN. “We just have to come out and play.”

In Game 3, Boston fell behind by as many as 21 points but for the most part stayed within arm’s reach of the Cavaliers which was a major improvement over Games 1 and 2 in Boston.

And as the Celtics continued to climb back into Game 3, James’ lack of impact plays remained a mystery.

And while there are some who are quick to put Sunday’s loss on James, not surprisingly his coach sees things differently.

“We're all to blame,” said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue on Monday. “We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well. It wasn't his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love) and Kyrie (Irving) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That's no excuse. Like I said, they played well, but we've just got to play better, be more physical.”

After reviewing the video from Game 3, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was once again impressed with James for the most part making the right basketball play most of the game.

“When you've got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them,” Stevens said. “He just made it over and over.

Stevens added, “The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He's a really good defender. He can read situations. So, I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said (following Game 3), I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”

Indeed, Stevens has far more important things to worry about, like bracing his players for the impending storm known to all as LeBron James.