The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and the Providence Bruins are facing off in the second round for the second straight season. But, this time, the Bruins came in as the 7th seed and the Penguins have home-ice advantage, seeded just higher at 6th coming into the post season. The format had the teams play the first two games in Wilkes-Barre. They split the games and headed to Providence for the next three.
Game 3 started off with the Bruins having to make a slight roster adjustment. With Bobby Robins serving the first game of his suspension, Tyler Randall got back into the line-up. During Game 2, the teams combined for 138 minutes of penalties. Although Game 3 was nowhere near that level, it was the Bruins that started off spending more time on the penalty kill than they would have liked.
The first frame came to a close without either team managing to get on the board. Arguably the best chances for the Bruins came during those penalty kills. Bruins forwards Ryan Spooner and Craig Cunningham were using their speed to generate opportunities. Penguins goalie Peter Mannino saw 8 shots while Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg saw only 4 shots.
In the second period, the Penguins were the first to finally get on the board. Veteran Chuck Kobasew beat Svedberg and that seemed to provide just the spark that the Bruins needed. They had looked like they were playing a little on their heels before that goal. But the offense did not come right away. At 15:16, while on the power play, rookie Seth Griffith put the puck past Mannino to tie the game. Less then three minutes later, Joe Morrow added a tally of his own and put the Bruins ahead for the first time in Game 3.
The score stood at 2-1 in favor of the Bruins when the second intermission came around. It seemed that Providence had gained all the momentum despite only being up by one goal. When the third period came around, it only took 15 seconds from to increase their lead. This time it was defenseman Blake Partlett. But the Bruins were not done, less than a minute later, rookie Alexander Khokhlachev notched his team leading 5th goal of the post season.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Penguins were not ready to give up quite so easily. Veteran Tom Kostopolous showed his leadership as he beat Svedberg to cut the lead down to 4-2. After him, Simon Despres and Conor Sheary followed suit, scoring goals just two minutes apart from each other. That gave the Penguins a tie with six minutes to go in regulation.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Bruins took what could have amounted to a costly bench minor for too many men. Despite a flurry of shots, the score remained the same and the teams headed to overtime for the first time in the series.
The first overtime saw the most shots of any of the periods last night. The teams combined for 25 total shots on net but could not get anything past either goalie. It was obvious that their legs were starting to get tired and they were moving a little slower than they had been to start. Game 3 went to a second overtime and that was where they would finally get their winner. At the 6:32 mark of the second period, Simon Despres notched his second of the night and only second of the postseason.
The teams do not get much of a break to think about the game or rest as they are back at it tomorrow (Friday, May 16th). Game 5 will be on Saturday, May 17th. The Penguins currently have a 2-1 series lead. Last season when the teams played, Providence took the first three games only to have Wilkes-Barre/Scranton battle back and win the last four. What will happen this season?