Goaltender Michael Hutchinson, a member of the Boston Bruins prospect system for four years and counting, has signaled his start to resolution season a full month early and not a moment too soon for his Providence colleagues.
Hutchinson entered Saturday night’s visit to Portland winless through the first two months of his third professional season and winless in each of four career games at the Cumberland County Civic Center. He left victorious in a 5-2 decision with the help of a single-night season-low two goals against and a single-night season-high 24 saves in a 60-minute regulation window.
In a microcosm of the team and the netminder’s fortunes, decisive goal-scorer Zach Trotman followed a similar fall-and-rise motif over the course of the night. The rookie defenseman was on the ice for each of two unanswered Pirates goals as an initial 1-0 Bruins lead devolved into a 2-1 deficit in a matter of 90 seconds late in the first period.
Trotman began to recompense that at 7:48 of the middle frame when he brooked an illegal hit from forechecker Rob Klinkhammer and thus drew a boarding penalty behind Hutchinson’s net. Jamie Tardif notched the equalizer on the ensuing Providence power play at 9:04.
The 2-2 knot held up until 16:25 of the closing frame, at which point Trotman slugged home a feed from Lane MacDermid.
Ryan Spooner and Christian Hanson, who had the secondary assist on Trotman’s go-ahead goal, each tacked on an empty netter to finalize the 5-2 triumph.
Some additional mathematical ice chips of note from Saturday’s match are as follows.
Points apiece, both assists, in the AHL this season for each half of the newfangled Matt Bartkowsi-Tommy Cross defensive unit. Strangely enough, after they combined for seven shots on goal in Cross’ debut on Friday, they joined Bobby Robins among the few P-Bruins with no registered stabs at Pirates backstop Mark Visentin.
Nonetheless, Cross’ feed and the remnants of Bartkowski’s attempted blast from the point amounted to a Jordan Caron connection for the initial lead. Throughout the night thereafter, the two were involved in several clean and assertive defensive zone clearances and attacking zone threats.
Power-play conversions on the year for Tardif, which puts him in a four-way tie for the team lead with Carter Camper, Caron and Max Sauve.
Shots on goal by Caron, the most among all skaters on either side on the night, one of which went through for the icebreaker at 5:35 of the opening frame.
Caron’s five stabs matched his previous season high from last Saturday and his goal snapped a five-game pointless drought along with an 11-game goal-less skid that began and ended concomitantly with November. All five of Caron’s goals on the year have been scored on the road.
Individual point-getters for the P-Bruins, which was a tad inflated by the back-to-back empty-net strikes but was already at nine, or half of the skaters, by the time Trotman had beat Visentin. Spooner’s goal went unassisted as he picked off Chris Brown, and Hanson’s goal was his second point of the night after he caught up with Colby Cohen’s catapult from his own end to neutral ice.
Providence skaters with a positive plus-minus rating and zero with a negative rating.
Because only one of Portland’s goals came at even strength, Trotman, Warsofsky and MacDermid were the only players in the red at any point.
MacDermid and Trotman both stitched that up when they collaborated on the winning goal. Warsofsky, who like Trotman intangibly compensated by drawing a Portland penalty at 8:49 of the third, helped to clear the puck en route to Spooner’s empty-netter.
Combined penalty minutes resulting from matching roughing or fighting infractions. Apart from that, this Atlantic Division bout was relatively clean with only five shorthanded segments.