MARLBORO, Mass. —Despite some significant pressure from the Wolf Pack, the Providence Bruins were able to maintain a lead through the entirety the contest and end with a 5–2 victory on Friday.
Hartford finished with a 28–24 shot advantage, but the game always felt in control of the P-Bruins. With about eight minutes left in the first period, Providence defenseman Tommy Cross fired a zone entry pass to winger Jakub Lauko, who entered the zone with some speed, cut towards the middle from within the left face-off circle, and fired a far-side shot that beat Wolf Pack goaltender Tyler Wall. The goal rally ramped up the intensity for the period, as it was only the sixth combined shot of the game. This led to seven shots between the team, five being for Hartford, but P-Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman turned every opportunity in the first frame away.
The second period was where the game opened up for Providence. A Power-play led to captain Paul Carey firing a cross-zone pass to forward Cameron Hughes, who quickly distributed the puck across the crease towards forward Anton Blidh, who redirected the puck past Wall and into the back of the net. The tic-tac-toe play gave the P-Bruins a 2–0 lead, and they would add to that lead less than a minute later, when a shot from defenseman Joel Messner was tipped by forward Karson Kuhlman into the back of the net, giving Providence a commanding 3–0 lead.
The remainder of the second period brought no additional scoring to the game, but the third period had sparks fly almost immediately.
Within the first three minutes of the final frame, Hartford got themselves on the board when forward Patrick Newell stole the puck off of an effective forecheck on the penalty kill, and applied some slight backhand sauce on a pass to defenseman Mason Geertson, who used his speed to generate a blistering one-time that beat Swayman. The goal was a step in the right direction for Hartford, but Providence squelched all of the momentum from the goal less than a minute later when Lauko received a pass from center Oskar Steen in the high slot and one-timed the puck past Wall to regain the three-goal lead.
The teams traded opportunities for the majority of the next 10 minutes, but Hartford cut the lead to two once again when a power play led to forward Jonny Brodzinski cycled the puck down to forward Austin Rueschhoff, who sent a one-touch pass to forward Morgan Barron in the slot, and Barron fired the puck past Swayman for the tally. Providence controlled play for much of the remainder of the period, and capped off the win when Hughes backhand flipped the puck from his own zone into the empty net with about 20 seconds remaining. This gave the game its final score of 5–2.
Swayman saved 26-of-28 shots in the game, while Wall saved 19 of 23 shots that came his way. Providence (9–2–1) is off until March 15 when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (2–6–0), while Hartford (3–5–0) is off until March 18 when they take on Bridgeport. Both games have puck drops at 1 p.m. EST.
Jack Murray covers the Providence Bruins for The Sin Bin. Follow or interact with him at @SinBinAHLBruins