(Photo: Providence Bruins)
The Providence Bruins hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for Game 4 of their second round series last night. A Penguins win would give them a 3-1 series lead, but a Bruins win would tie the series and that makes a big difference. Wilkes-Barre had the benefit of Brian Gibbons returning to the lineup after competing with the Pittsburg Penguins. Providence would have hoped to get Matt Fraser back from Boston after their elimination, but was not as lucky as it came out that he had been playing most of the postseason so far with a broken foot that might now need surgery.
Unlike Game 3, Providence managed to get onto the board during a first period that they really controlled. Rookie Seth Griffith had his 4th of the post season and has been an impressive factor in the playoffs. The first period was all about Providence with them controlling the puck and only allowing the Penguins to get four shots on rookie goalie Malcolm Subban. Subban had not started a game yet against the Penguins but had taken over to relieve Niklas Svedberg in Game 2.
The momentum seemed to swing in the second period. Providence was not able to get control of the puck and put pressure on Penguins goalie Peter Mannino. Instead, the second period was all about the Penguins. They managed to put 18 shots on Subban in that period alone and he came up with some impressive saves. Only one shot managed to find it’s way through as defenseman Reid McNeill got his first tally of the playoffs to tie the game up.
When the teams came out for the third period, it was clear that the Bruins needed a spark in order to stay in the game. Just under three minutes into the period, it seemed they had found what they needed. With a scrum in from of Mannino, it seemed that one of the Bruins had pushed the puck in. However, the officials ruled it was not a goal and the Bruins ended up getting a penalty shot out of the situation. Nick Johnson took the shot but it hit Mannino in the chest and the score stayed tied.
Just over a minute later, Wilkes-Barre took their first lead of the game. Conor Sheary had his second goal in as many games. Despite that goal, it was the Bruins that controlled most of the shots in the third period. They were doing everything but score as the tried to keep the pressure high. It seemed that the game was over and the Penguins would have the 3-1 series lead. But, as the green light went off to signal the end of the game with a group of Bruins in front of the Penguins net, the referee closest to the net was also signaling a goal.
Since the time had run out, the officials had to look to the tape and review the goal. They needed to see if it had crossed the line in time. After a quick deliberation, the officials emerged and signaled a good goal, sending the teams to overtime. The goal came with less than a second remaining on the clock and was credited to Ryan Spooner.
It was the very definition of digging deep and the goal came at the perfect time for the Bruins to rally around. Even though the shots ended up being even in overtime, it was clear that Providence got the spark they were looking for. That spark ended with them stealing game 4 after looking like they were going to lose in regulation. Less than halfway into the overtime period, the puck was laying on the ice between the post and Mannino’s blocker. Cory Kane, a college player signed to an ATO out of Ferris State saw the puck and kept jabbing until it went in the net. It was his first pro goal.
Mannino was not happy, insisting that the play should have been whistled dead or the goal should have been called off due to goaltender interference. However, it was a good goal and Providence took Game 4 to even up the series.
Game 5 is tonight in Providence with the series lead up for grabs. The Bruins will be without Justin Florek. He suffered a lower body injury during last night’s game and left early. Bruins captain Mike Moore also took a stick up high in the third, but only missed a few shifts. So, the Bruins should just have to replace one player in the lineup for tonight.