Providence forced a decisive Game 7 in their second round series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. This was the second straight year that the two teams met in the second round and the second straight year that the Penguins came out on top in a Game 7. Once again, it seemed like it was just not in the cards for Providence even though they showed remarkable resilience.
In Game 7, the teams skated the whole first period scoreless. Providence had come out with a convincing 4-1 win in Game 6 to send it to a decisive Game 7. The Bruins decided to stick with Nicklas Svedberg between the pipes as it had been in Game 6 and that proved to be a dangerous decision. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored 4 goals during a four minute stretch towards the beginning of the second period. Anton Zlobin scored his fifth of postseason as did Conor Sheary, giving Sheary a 6 game point streak. That resulted in a goalie change to Malcolm Subban. He let in a power play goal just a couple minutes into playing.
With the 5-0 lead, it seemed to be all but sealed for the Penguins. However, the Bruins were not willing to go down without a fight. With less than a minute left in the second period, David Warsofsky scored a shorthanded goal.
The teams came back for the third period with the Penguins leading 5-1. The Bruins quickly found the back of the net again, less than 30 seconds into the period. This time it was Ryan Spooner with his 6th of the postseason. Alexander Khokhlachev added two of his own, one of the power play, giving him a league leading 9 postseason goals. That was as close as they would get as they were not able to finish the comeback and fell 5-4 to the Penguins.
Despite the second round exit, the Providence Bruins have a lot to be proud of, especially with the postseason. They managed to rally late in the season to secure the 7th spot in the playoffs. During the first round, they forced the second seeded Springfield Falcons to play a full five game series before winning to advance. Then, they had some impressive moments in their series with Penguins to take it to 7 games.
Throughout the season, Providence had to contend with a number of injuries and call-ups. There were 8 different players that made their NHL debuts with Boston this season, including defenseman Kevan Miller that stayed up with Boston all season. They also had to supplement their roster with a number of players on tryout contracts.
The Providence Bruins had a young team this season and will have a lot to build on. Rookie forwards Alexander Khokhlachev and Seth Griffith, who made a big impact both during the regular season and during the playoffs, will both be back for their sophomore seasons. Rookie goaltender Malcolm Subban, who played 33 games, will also return. Second year player Ryan Spooner is still under contract but could make a push for Boston.
They have the potential pieces to be competitive again next season, but for now they will have to settle for giving their bodies a chance to rest in the offseason. Next season, many players will likely be hungry to get back to the playoffs.