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.