The Providence Bruins and Albany Devils conducted a whole different goaltending card on a whole different synthetic pond, yet concocted the same basic result in the second installment of their season series Saturday night.
Like his colleague, Niklas Svedberg, at the expense of Keith Kinkaid at home 36 nights prior, Bruins goaltender Michael Hutchinson stamped a 2-1 shootout victory against Jeff Frazee before 3,441 viewers at Albany’s Times Union Center.
David Warsofsky outdueled Frazee in the top of the ninth “inning” of the deciding one-on-ones before Hutchinson stoned Stephen Gionta for his seventh shootout save of the night after a 28-save effort in regulation and overtime.
For the P-Bruins as a whole, this means retaining a virtual tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Portland Pirates, though they technically have the upper hand by virtue of games in hand.
For Hutchinson, Saturday’s upshot and unfolding carried a multifold element of redemption.
In his only previous bout against the Devils, another road outing on Nov. 7, 2010, Hutchinson was pulled at 3:30 of the second period with a 4-1 deficit glowering down on his team. Successor Nolan Schaefer stopped the bleeding, and his skating mates cleared the scar with five unanswered goals for a 6-4 triumph that night.
This time, in the same venue and with the same Albany counterpart in Frazee, Hutchinson lasted two minutes and 28 seconds longer without authorizing a single strike. Although, the one goal he did allow gave him an extended work night.
The eventual victory was Hutchinson’s reward for withstanding the better part of 14 minutes and 51 seconds worth of penalty-killing time during the 65 minutes of full-fledged hockey action. His only regulation blink came on an Albany power play and effectively necessitated the overtime and shootout after Providence had initially safeguarded the lead.
The P-Bruins broke the ice shortly after getting through a double-minor penalty kill around the halfway mark of the opening frame. Within 36 seconds of Ryan Spooner’s jailbreak, defenseman Zach Trotman converted Jamie Tardif’s feed at the 10:46 mark.
With the lone helper, Tardif stretched his point-scoring streak to five games. But one of Albany’s own hot hands, Bobby Butler, would pull his club even whilst ensuring at least one point in each of his first six outings in the month of December.
Counting Spooner’s sentence as two segments, the Devils rolled up four unanswered power plays, converting the last of those for the equalizer courtesy of Butler at 5:58 of the middle frame.
Albany, however, would whiff on another set of three successive man-advantages in the climactic phases of the contest. Craig Cunningham was whistled for hooking with 6:17 to spare in regulation and gave way to Warsofsky in the box only seven seconds after his release before a Trotman penalty for high-sticking spilled into sudden death.
Also of note from Albany: Kevan Miller led all participants with six shots on goal, and Tardif and Chris Bourque notched a shootout goal apiece for the P-Bruins. Bourque went pointless in regulation, but his team still mustered a full two-point package in spite of that for the first time in 2012-13. Providence is now 1-6-2 on the year when Bourque comes up empty on the scoresheet.
Stingrays Are Less Than Glad
The South Carolina Stingrays spilled their shot at a home win Saturday, letting the Gwinnett Gladiators draw a 2-2 knot with 22 seconds left in regulation and bust that tie with 3:21 gone in the ensuing overtime.
The Rays thus finished their relatively short weekend with back-to-back regulation ties and are now winless in their last three outings after previously claiming a victory in each of their previous six games.
Junior and College Notes
In Saturday matinee OHL action, Seth Griffith was quiet until the shootout in Guelph, where he scored the first of two London Knights’ one-on-one goals, enough for a 4-3 road triumph. In turn, while Griffith went pointless for only the second time within the last three weeks and the sixth time this season, his input was still instrumental in pushing his team’s winning streak to 20 games.