Goaltender Niklas Svedberg answered three double-digit shot collections in as many periods and charged up a season-high 36 saves to preserve a 2-1 victory for the Providence Bruins at Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center.
A single goal was scored in each of stanza of Saturday’s defensive duel, with Bobby Robins and Ryan Spooner sculpting an initial 2-0 edge for the Bruins. The host Portland Pirates finally solved Svedberg in the 10th minute of the third when Scott Arnold nabbed the puck from Zach Trotman in neutral ice and fed Patrick Lane on a rush for the burial.
Apart from that, Svedberg was spotless against a fairly balanced and potent Portland strike force. He repelled each of the five stabs issued by the Pirates top gun, Alexandre Bolduc, and a combined five more issued by three players―Chris Brown, Rob Klinkhammer and Andy Miele―who entered and exited the contest with five goals apiece on the year.
The P-Bruins are now 6-6-1 and back at the .500 mark for the first time since Svedberg―who is 6-2-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .940 save percentage―last backstopped a pair of wins on back-to-back nights (Oct. 19-20).
Svedberg and his skating mates percolated this collection of noteworthy numbers as well.
Shots on goal by Chris Bourque, who is now the only Providence skater to have registered at least one shot in all 13 games. Craig Cunningham shared that distinction until he was kept from pestering Portland netminder Mark Visentin all night Saturday.
Bourque was credited with the lone assist on Spooner’s eventual decider Saturday, tying the two for the team lead with eight helpers on the year.
Defensemen dressed by Providence, along with 11 forwards, although Ryan Button split his shifts between either position in Saturday's game.
The Bruins were missing their top blueliner, the grizzled Garnet Exelby. It is unclear whether or not Exelby’s absence influenced head coach Bruce Cassidy’s decision to deviate the conventional alignment of 12 forwards and six defenders, but it worked well enough with Svedberg providing a sturdy spine.
Cumulative minutes and 36 seconds spent on the penalty kill. All six of the P-Bruins’ solo infractions were committed within the first two stanzas, with the last being a carry-over high-sticking minor on Lane MacDermid.
But for the second straight night, the Bruins successfully warded off the opposing power play while converting one of their own to help spell the difference in the one-goal victory.
Portland shots in the second period, Svedberg’s single-busiest stanza in his young North American professional career. The Pirates set the tone for the tempest with a string of six unanswered stabs, aided in part by a 77-second five-on-three advantage, but Svedberg consistently answered.
Consecutive minutes and 55 seconds since the P-Bruins last trailed as part of a season-best three-game point-getting streak. They drew a 1-1 knot at 16:05 of last Sunday’s first period and subsequently raised a 3-1 upper hand before spilling a shootout decision to Worcester and have not fallen behind at any point in the first two-thirds of this weekend’s slate.
Svedberg has been given two 2-0 leads to defend this weekend, one of which momentarily dissolved before Jamie Tardif tallied Friday night’s clincher in a 3-2 triumph over Manchester.
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