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.

Saturday, Feb. 25: Shea Theodore waits for his time with Ducks

Saturday, Feb. 25: Shea Theodore waits for his time with Ducks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving two thumbs up to The Lego Batman Movie after a screening with my 3 1/2 year old.

*Alex Prewitt has a profile on Anaheim defenseman prospect Shea Theodore as he waits for his time with the Ducks.

*The Vancouver Canucks have a mumps problem this season, and we continue to wonder why this is becoming an issue again in a first-world society.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has Patrick Eaves dealt to the Ducks for what could be first round pick if Anaheim advances far enough through the playoffs.

*Flyers GM Ron Hextall says that Philly’s young team won’t be buying ahead of next week’s NHL trade deadline.

*Along with his “Sutter-isms”, diversity is a family value for the Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

*Dave Strader gets back into the broadcast booth with the Dallas Stars, and will be a welcomed addition to the national NBC broadcast of Bruins/Stars on Sunday afternoon.

*As cold as he was earlier in the season, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is heating up now for the Blueshirts.

*For something completely different: Brie Larson is already prepping for her role as Captain Marvel by stepping up her game as an influence for positive change among her Hollywood peers.


 
 

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.