That was when it all ended as well, at least until they meet again.
Only four minutes and four seconds after he was on duty for a goal surrendered while shorthanded, Bartkowski inserted a high-flying wrister to draw a 2-2 knot with 2:02 left in regulation.
He subsequently watched his mates bail him out in overtime after he was boxed for hooking, then watched as Max Sauve buried the lone shootout goal to secure a 3-2 triumph before 6,621 fans at the DCU Center.
When Brodie Reid tallied the go-ahead power-play conversion by slugging home Sean Acolatse’s feed, Bartkowski had been on the ice for seven (70 percent) out of 10 Worcester goals in four games this season series. Conversely, he has shared the liability for for only 13 (27.6 percent) of 47 opposing tallies in the Bruins’ 17 games against other clubs.
Meanwhile, the Bruins were suddenly six minutes and six seconds away from a fourth shortcoming in as many tries this season against their Atlantic Division adversary.
All of that turned around in accordance with Bartkowski’s first goal of the 2012-13 campaign. He forced the third straight overtime/shootout decision in this matchup and Providence solved the formula after falling short in the previous installments.
Besides the Bartkowski storyline, here is a deeper look at the key data from the DCU Center drama.
Career shootout goals on 12 tries for Sauve, who beat Alex Stalock on a backhander in the top of the sixth inning after each netminder repelled his first five challenges.
As it happens, Sauve is on a nine-game drought without any regulation points, his last being a Nov. 2 goal against these same Sharks. His lightning-round decider could be a baby step towards recapturing his old ways.
Unanswered shots on the Worcester net after the Sharks renewed their lead late in the third period. The fifth of those Providence stabs tuned the mesh for the second equalizer, assuring the regulation tie.
Team-leading goals on the season for Jamie Tardif, his latest being the P-Bruins icebreaker when he guided Zach Trotman’s point shot home at 2:20 of the third, abolishing a 30-minute, 10-second-old 1-0 deficit.
Whistles summoned by goalie Michael Hutchinson in the second period, during which the Sharks usurped command of the shooting gallery and more than doubled Providence in that category, 15-7.
Hutchinson’s habit of forcing faceoffs, particularly during the end of a carry-over two-man disadvantage and another penalty kill later in the frame, helped to keep the Bruins within a goal through intermission as he minimized sustained Shark attacks.
Consecutive blown power plays for the Bruins, dating back to the second period of last Saturday’s visit to Portland. An empty showing on four man advantages was the lone jutting blemish on this Saturday as it effectively meant failing to raise an upper hand in regulation and thus yielding a point to Worcester.
Had Providence nailed a winning goal in the first 60 minutes, whether that be of the power-play variety or otherwise, it would have pulled even with the Sharks and Pirates for second in the division. Instead, the Sharks are in a virtual tie with Manchester for first with 25 points apiece while the Bruins are tied with Portland for third, though all four teams are separated by one point.
Saves by Hutchinson, which constitutes a new season high.
Granted, that total was inflated by five stops in the five-minute sudden-death session, but his 27 regulation saves were still the most he has made in a standard 60-minute outing.
In each of his last two outings, and his first two wins in 2012-13, Hutchinson has posted a new season high in the way of single-night goals-against average and save percentage. He had a .923 stinginess rate coupled with an even 2.00 GAA in Portland and a .941 save percentage with a 1.85 GAA in Worcester.