With Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Worcester Sharks, the Providence Bruins have gone pointless in the AHL standings in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 2. As such, they failed to reward reams of individuals splashing their personal point droughts.
Four was the main number of the night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
There were a total of four equalizers and four subsequent lead changes as neither party could muster a multi-goal lead at any time.
The first of those lead changes was solely owed to Chris Bourque, ordinarily a prolific playmaker, who doubled his season output to four goals. He drew a 1-1 knot at 10:31 of the middle frame and then raised the upper hand for Providence 34 seconds into the third period.
All things considered, Bourque’s final stat line of two strikes and an assist came as little surprise. The most pleasant new development for the host club was the ostensible resurgence of four skaters who had a hand in one or more of the Bruins’ first three tallies.
Defenseman Tommy Cross’ secondary assist on the 1-1 equalizer constituted his first point in eight outings. With the primary helper on each of Bourque’s goals, Carter Camper averted what would have been his first string of three straight pointless games-played.
Max Sauve, whose only two points in his previous 13 games were two assists in last Friday’s 6-3 win over Springfield, was credited with the primary helper on the P-Bruins’ third connection. He, along with Craig Cunningham, forked furiously before Cunningham applied the finishing touch for his second goal in four games after a preceding seven-game scoreless skid.
Yet, not even the awakenings of those four Providence players―Camper, Cross, Cunningham and Sauve―nor the team’s four total goals were sufficient. Neither was the fact that, in a bout featuring a cumulative 134 penalty minutes and 19 power plays, the Bruins outscored the Sharks on special teams, 3-2.
In an all but comical twist, Worcester made even-strength the difference this time as it won at The Dunk for the fourth time in as many tries this season.
This time, one even-strength error too many barred the Bruins from the win column.
The 2-1 lead single-handedly sculpted by Bourque in a pair of five-on-three segments was negated by two bang-bang, five-on-five strikes, flipping the Sharks’ 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 edge in a matter of two minutes and 28 seconds.
A 4-3 Providence advantage spawned by Jamie Tardif lived for less than five minutes when John McCarthy buried the visitors’ second power-play conversion of the night. Jonathan Matsumoto followed up with the even-strength decider at 19:49 of the closing frame.
That final goal amounted to goaltender Niklas Svedberg’s heaviest workload (36 shots) and worst shellacking since a 6-0 meltdown last month in St. John’s, the last time the P-Bruins went pointless on his watch. He had gone 4-0-1 in the interim.
Stung In Cincinnati
The South Carolina Stingrays finished on the wrong side of their own barnburner, letting a 6-5 decision slip away to the host Cincinnati Cyclones.
Four participants in the P-Bruins’ training camp―Damian Kipp, Matthew Pistilli, Justin Courtnall and Art Bidlevskii―joined Hunter Bishop in tuning the mesh for South Carolina. But the Stingrays’ valiance in responding to an initial 3-0 deficit and eventually filling 4-1 and 5-4 potholes went for naught when Cincinnati’s David Pacan scored with 7:47 to spare in regulation.
On a night of relatively light activity throughout the extended Bruins family, the motif of red-light blindness in a losing cause trickled down to the amateur ranks.
Boston draftee Matt Benning joined his Dubuque Fighting Saints in brooking an uncharacteristic 7-3 letdown against the host Green Bay Gamblers in Friday’s USHL action. The Gamblers tallied five power-play goals, including three unanswered in the second period, to halt Dubuque’s five-game winning streak.
Benning was credited with one shot on goal and, with so many strikes coming on special teams, his plus/minus did not budge in either direction.
The Saints are now 7-3-0 in their last 10 with the home team claiming a regulation decision each night in that span.