Final score: Hershey 6, Providence 4.
So now the Providence Bruins have to figure out what they did right in tonight’s first period and come up with a way to do it for a full 60 minutes, as they squander leads of 3-0 and 4-2 en route to falling behind two games to one in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series with Hershey. Game 4 is Sunday night back here at “The Dunk” and I’ll be live blogging the action again.
I’ll have complete postgame reaction/analysis in a bit.
19:25: Exactly what Providence didn’t want to see — the Hershey power play is kicking into gear. Helmer slaps one past Rask from the right point, and it’ll be back to the drawing board for the P-Bruins before Game 4. Hershey 6, Providence 4.
18:43: St. Pierre lost the draw, Hershey cleared the puck and then drew a penalty. Marchand goes off for high sticking and a large chunk of this crowd heads for the exit.
18:20: Hershey ices the puck. Huge opportunity for Providence here.
17:15: The veteran Aucoin levels the rookie Arniel in front of the Hershey net. That’s poise under pressure.
16:45: A team in black and gold struggling to get out of its own end. Help me, I’m having flashbacks.
15:40: Hershey has completely taken the crowd out of this game as much as they’ve knocked the P-Bruins’ game out of whack.
13:58: And now we’ll see how Providence responds to real adversity, as Mink tips home Helmer’s shot from the left point and then jumps up and down in joy because his team has its first lead of the night. Hershey 5, Providence 4.
12:04: Neuvirth flashes a steady glove there to deny MacDonald on the end of a 3-0n-2.
10:18: You wonder how much the Bears’ experience advantage is going to be a factor down the stretch here. I think it already had an impact on the Bears making this comeback in the first place.
6:52: More sloppy play in the neutral zone by Providence, and this time it costs the P-Bruins. Giroux, maybe the most dangerous scorer in the league, cashes in on a breakaway after the Providence breakdown and we have a brand-new hockey game. Providence 4, Hershey 4
5:28: Sobotka barely stepped foot back on the ice before the Bears cashed in on a feed from Kyle Wilson to Gordon in front for a score voer Rask’s shoulder. Now it’s a nail-biter again. Providence 4, Hershey 3.
3:26: Bad play by Sobotka to knock down a Bears player with the puck 10 feet away. So after the interference call Hershey goes back on the power play.
0:38: I don’t know what’s more lethal, Boychuk’s slapper or Penner’s wrister. The Bears took the shot away from Boychuk, so he shoveled the puck to Penner, who held and then snapped one over the stick side high for his second goal of the game. Providence 4, Hershey 2.
Second intermission stats update: Brad Marchand leads Providence with four shots on net.
Second intermission observation: It’s the old bugaboo every team faces — Providence has to slow down Hershey in the neutral zone because that’s how the Bears get set up and get chances is by breaking into the zone with speed. We’ll see what adjustments the P-Bruins make, but really it’s more about execution than the actual plan.
20:00: Terrible job with the man-advantage for the P-Bruins as the period came to a close. They’ll have 1:08 of power-play time when the third stanza starts. At the end of two period its’ Providence 3, Hershey 2.
19:07: Now here’s a chance for Providence to take some momentum back, as Keith Aucoin gets caught slashing and the P-Bruins go on the power play.
18:40: Collins just took a teammate’s shot off his ankle and he goes straight to the dressing room.
18:04: Providence is spending way too much time chasing the puck in its own end and not bearing down on those clearing chances.
16:42: Hamill just tried a Marc Savard special with a pass to the middle to no one in particular. The Bears moves the puck the other way and Rask makes a save on a slap shot by Helmer.
15:16: Interesting that in addition to making sure McQuaid and Andrew Bodnarchuk are out against the Bears’ top line, Providence coach Rob Murray has been getting the Arniel line out there as often as possible. With Jeremy Reich and MacDonald flanking him, the rookie is obviously impressing his coach with his play in his own end.
13:45: After a ton of Hershey pressure, the Hamill line finally gets something going for Providence. Schaefer hit the post in the midst of about 25 seconds of attack time by the P-Bruins.
10:45: McQuaid just blocked a Helmer shot and he doesn’t look that healthy. He makes his way to the bench gingerly after a whistle.
9:05: Chris Bourque obviously doesn’t get sentimental about seeing those black and gold sweaters on the other side, as he adds to the Hershey comeback with a one-time from the slot past Rask. That all started with an icing against Providence and a faceoff win. Providence 3, Hershey 2.
8:00: Great stick check on Giroux by McQuaid in front. McQuaid is doing a great job containing the sniper.
7:04: No one has withstood more physical contact than Sobotka so far, but he looks undeterred.
5:52: Dean Arsene knocks Levi Nelson right into Neuvirth, and then goes over and crosschecks Nelson after the whistle but nothing gets called. I don’t get how you have to defend your goaltender when you’re the one that caused the collision.
3:26: Just like that, Giroux gets on the board and makes this a game again. After Keith Aucoin won a faceoff clean in the left circle, the regular-season MVP buried a one-timer from the top of the left circle. Providence 3, Hershey 1.
3:01: And there it is, as Mikko Lehtonen blows into the Hershey zone with speed and leaves a pass for Peter Schaefer to bury behind Neuvirth. The P-Bruins are very much in control now. Providence 3, Hershey 0.
2:38: Watching Neuvirth field pucks brings back memories of Julio Lugo at shortstop. You get the feeling the P-Bruins are just one fortunate bounce away from blowing this open.
1:31: Providence goes on the power play for the third time, as Bryan Helmer goes off for roughing.
1:00: That was a juicy rebound Rask gave up with the Bears’ top line on the ice, but MacDonald pounced on it and swept it aside.
First intermission stats update: Osala has been the Bears’ most dangerous offensive player in this series, but Rask stopped all three of his shots. Giroux has been limited to just one shot on net by Providence, which outshot the Bears, 11-9, in the first period.
First intermission observation: Sobotka or Stephane Yelle for the 2009-10 Bruins? I think it might be the Czech center’s time. Of course, he could skate on the wing in Boston like he has been doing here all season and that wouldn’t rule out a return of Yelle to the Hub — depending, of course, on price.
20:00: Boychuk threw about three loud hits on that shift and the Bears took exception, so there’s some pushing and shoving after the horn. But the P-Bruins go off to a rousing ovation from their fans. At the end of the first, it’s Providence 2, Hershey 0.
19:40: Oskar Osala’s bid bounces off Rask’s shoulder and the rebound is cleared.
18:15: Jeremy Reich dangled long enough down the left wing to draw Neuvirth out of the goal but his pass to the front only found Hershey defenseman Sean Collins.
15:33: Add about a foot of height and Jeff Penner would look just like Zdeno Chara cutting backdoor to the net for a power-play goal. The result as is the same, as the rookie cashes in off the feed by Sobotka. Providence 2, Hershey 0.
15:04: Now Vladimir Sobotka draws a penalty at the Hershey blue line. Mink goes off for charging. So this period of special teams continues.
14:40: Rask makes a great save and then Neuvirth stops a Kirk MacDonald shorthanded bid.
13:50: Good recovery by Stokes after his clearing pass went right to Andrew Gordon, but Stokes got the puck back and Johnny Boychuk cleared it.
12:49: Now Adam McQuaid gets whistled for crosschecking Graham Mink in front of the Providence net, so Hershey goes back on the power play. The Bears are just 1-for-13 in this series on the man-advantage.
12:00: Kind of a sloppy power play by Providence, but at least Hershey didn’t grab any momentum.
9:44: A strong kill by the P-Bruins followed by a Hershey penalty on Steve Pinizzotto for unsportsmanlike conduct. Here’s the first Providence power play.
8:45: Hershey super sniper Claude Giroux tried to sneak one in the goal off Rask, but it deflects out the other end of the crease.
7:36: A scrum in front of Rask costs the Bruins, as Stokes goes to the box for roughing.
6:13: More than 8,000 here at “The Dunk” and many are equipped with Thunderstix. I’m not sure if that’s a home-ice advantage or not.
4:49: Hershey gets some help from a Providence icing call. This is the first time the puck’s been in the P-Bruins’ end in a while.
1:56: For the first time this postseason, Boston ’07 first-round pick Zach Hamill lights the lamp — but he had help. Hamill threw a harmless shot on net from the top of the right circle with two Bears defenders back. Neuvirth shouldered it in the air but couldn’t find it before it trickled into the net. Defenseman Patrick McNeill looked like he was trying to chase his dog after a got of its leash but he was no help. Providence 1, Hershey 0.
1:09: Johnny Boychuk rips one off the far post. The only proof he took a shot was the ping of the pipe because you definitely couldn’t see it — and neither could Neuvirth.
7:00 p.m.: Heading into this game, Brad Marchand is on a bit of a tear for the P-Bruins with points in four straight games (3-2-5).
From here I’ll go with time elapsed in the game. Enjoy!
6:51 p.m.: No pressure on the P-Bruins, but they’re playing in front of pretty much every member of the Boston brass you can think of — general manager Peter Chiarelli, his aides, head coach Claude Julien and on down the line. No doubt, they’d all be rather getting ready to fly up to Pittsburgh, but we know how that goes.
6:45 p.m.: How about Jamie Arniel? A fourth-round pick of Boston last June, he put up 68 points in 63 games for Sarnia in the OHL. Now due to injuries he’s centering Providence’s second line and he even has a goal in this postseason.
6:40 p.m.: Here is how Providence went through its line drills:
6:33 p.m.: The starting goaltenders — Michal Neuvirth for Hershey and Tuukka Rask for Providence — lead the teams to the ice for warm-ups. No sign of Rabbit, but Stokes is out there.
6:27 p.m.: The P-Bruins’ leading scorer in the playoffs so far is center Martin St. Pierre with 14 points (five goals). He tied for the team lead in points during the regular season with 66. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent come July 1 and will probably be looking for a home somewhere he can get a legit NHL chance. He’s certainly earned it with all his AHL All-Star appearances and his presence among the league’s leading scorers each year.
6:20 p.m.: On another injury front, the P-Bruins are hoping to have defenseman Ryan Stokes back after a five-game absence. Just like in the NHL, all these injuries are “undisclosed.” Good to practice that early before getting to the big leagues.
6:02 p.m.: Providence center Wacey Rabbit since he was injured in the first period of Game 1. But he skated this morning so there’s a chance he could return to the lineup. We’ll know more at warm-ups. Rabbit has posted 1-5-6 totals and a plus-4 rating so far in the postseason.
The Providence Bruins and the Hershey Bears are tied one game apiece in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series heading into tonight’s Game 3 here at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. I’ll be live blogging all the action, so be sure to log on often to TheBruinsBlog.net.