The Providence Bruins took on the Manchester Monarchs in a Sunday matinee game as both teams finish up their regular seasons. The Monarchs came in as the best team in the East with 102 points, and their were looking to catch the Texas Stars to have the best overall record in the AHL. The Bruins were looking for those final two points to guarantee themselves a place in the playoffs. While the final score left the fans a little unsatisfied, the Providence squad did play with one arm proverbially tied behind their backs yesterday afternoon.
The P-Bruins were once again called upon to surrender some talent to their big brothers in the NHL. Matt Lindblad, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek, and Alexander Khokhlachev were all given the call up to play for Boston in their final game of the season against the New Jersey Devils. (The Boston Bruins went on to drop their last game of the regular season, 3-2.) Even with that restriction, the P-Bruins came out swinging early in this one. Just four minutes into the game, the Providence Bruins took the lead first with a goal from Alexander Fallstrom(his third of the season), assisted by Andrew Cherniwchan and Mike Moore.
A Rob Flick tripping call found the Bruins having to make up some ground after Manchester’s Andy Andreoff earned the night’s only power play goal half way through the first period. The Bruins found themselves falling behind early in the second period when Scott Sabourin got the puck past Malcom Subban unassisted three minutes into the third. While that goal ignited and angered the crowd, they were rewarded three minutes later when Nick Johnson got his eighteenth of the year. (The fans were also rewarded with one of the loudest and longest goal celebrations I’ve seen all season.) Fallstrom and Tommy Cross were awarded the assists. Johnson led all Bruins with four shots on goal.
The third period found the Bruins spending a lot of their time defending in their own zone. The Bruins were bottled in by a very aggressive Manchester forecheck and it endedup costing the Bruins. Jeff Schultz put the Monarchs ahead for good just two and a half minutes into the final period. While the Bruins seemed to find their legs in the bottom half of the period, Manchester goaltender Jean-Francois Berube closed the door on Providence, and never let them back in the game. When the final buzzer sounded, the Bruins had lost 3-2, with that last playoff clenching win eluding them.
Malcolm Subban finished out the night with twenty four saves on the night (.888 save percentage). The Providence Bruins are now in seventh place in the East. They’ll need a win to guarantee their position in the postseason. Even with only two games left on the regular season, it’s still a very fluid situation for those final seeds in the Eastern Conference. If the P-Bruins aren’t careful, they could find themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the season.