P-Bruins Week in Review
The race for the postseason is as tight as it can be in the Atlantic Division and the Providence Bruins are clinging to the final playoff berth. With 23 games left in the season, the P-Bruins are in fourth place at 61 points with a 27-19-6-1 record. Despite a trio of home games this weekend the team only earned two of six points with one victory, dropping from third to fourth in the division.
The P-Bruins opened their three-game weekend against the defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies. Despite trailing 1-0 early in the second, Providence rattled off three unanswered goals to take control of the game. Steven Kampfer started the scoring with a shorthanded goal and Lee Stempniak put the P-Bruins ahead with his first AHL goal since 2006 later in the period. A third period goal for Anton Blidh sealed the 3-1 victory and pushed McIntyre's career-best winning streak up to 12 games.
Providence turned to Dan Vladar in net Saturday night against the first-place Charlotte Checkers, but his team quickly fell behind 3-0 into the final period. Paul Carey and Jakub Zboril scored goals 43 seconds apart to the start the third, but ultimately the P-Bruins fell 3-2. The team welcomed Springfield to the Dunk Sunday afternoon, but special team powered the Thunderbirds to victory. A shorthanded goal and three power play goals proved too much to overcome as the T-Birds ended the week with a convincing 5-1 victory.
All good things must come to an end
The loss on Sunday put an end to Zane McIntyre's 12-game winning streak, but what a run it was for the fourth-year goaltender. The streak, which was a personal best for McIntyre, saw him post a 1.65 GAA and save percentage of 93% since it began on January 4. He allowed two or fewer goals in all but three of those games, including his first shutout of the season. He now has the second most wins of any goaltender in the AHL with 20 and is fifth overall in minutes played. His run of dominance is one of the biggest reasons Providence came back from seventh place into playoff position, and they will need him to continue his strong play to remain in the postseason mix.
Veteran forward Lee Stempniak, who had been practicing most of the season with Boston on a tryout, agreed to a PTO with Providence prior to the weekend and made his P-Bruins debut Friday. He was very active in his debut at right wing with Ryan Donato and Gemel Smith, posting a goal and a shorthanded assist (the goal was his first in the AHL since 2006). He suited up in two of the three games this weekend showed that there is something left in the tank. How long he remains with Providence remains to be seen, but with the trade deadline approaching he is a nice insurance or depth option for the organization going forward.
The scoring for Providence was fairly spread out this weekend with no player scoring more than two points. Ryan Fitzgerald, Chris Breen and Smith led the team with two assists each while Stempniak and Kampfer added multipoint games Friday against Toronto.
Steven Kampfer completed his conditioning loan from Boston and heads back to the NHL after three games with Providence. He played well during his AHL stint, posting a shorthanded goal and an assist with a +3 rating. With one defenseman heading back to Boston, Providence recalled Joel Messner from ECHL Atlanta Monday to add depth to their banged-up group. Kyle Cumiskey and Jeremy Lauzon are both nursing injuries, so Messner could see immediate action over the weekend.
The P-Bruins are back in action with third consecutive three-in-three weekend. They open Friday night at the Dunk with a 7:05pm faceoff against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team travels to Hartford Saturday at 7pm for the start of their home-and-home series with the Wolf Pack and conclude the weekend Sunday at the Dunk with a 3:05pm tilt against the Pack.
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