POST ALL-STAR BREAK BEGINS IN PROVIDENCE
Providence Hosts Portland Tonight at The Dunk in Division Showdown
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (25-18-2-1, 53 PTS, 1st Atlantic) host the Portland Pirates (24-18-1-2, 51 PTS, 2nd Atlantic) this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the teams' sixth of 10 regular season meetings in 2008-09. The Pirates lead the season series 3-2-0, including a 1-1-0 record in Rhode Island after defeating the P-Bruins 5-3 on January 16.
Providence enters the contest following a rare one-game week entering the All-Star festivities, a 3-1 triumph over the Springfield Falcons last Saturday night. The P-Bruins received multiple-point outings from both Vladimir Sobotka (g, a) and Martin St. Pierre (2a) in their return from the parent Boston Bruins while Tuukka Rask, now with Boston, stopped all but one of the 22 shots he faced for the win.
There has been some roster movement since that last game in addition to Boston's recall of Rask. All-Star Martins Karsums, who helped lead his PlanetUSA squad to a 14-11 win on Monday night with two goals and three assists at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic, has been reassigned by Boston to the Latvian National Team, where he will attempt to help the Latvian club qualify for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He leaves Providence leading the team with 17 goals and 41 points. Returning to Rhode Island, meanwhile, is goaltender Kevin Regan. The rookie went 1-1-0 with a 2.50 goals-against-average during his time with the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators, twice facing the Florida Everblades. He replaces Rask on Providence's roster, joining Kevin Nastiuk as the P-Bruins' goaltending tandem.
Portland has won two straight games after back-to-back wins over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last weekend. The Pirates have been hurting for offense, totaling just seven goals over their last five games since the win over Providence. All-Star rookie Nathan Gerbe, who leads Portland with 19 goals, has missed the team's last four contests. The Pirates have also struggled outside of Maine with a 7-9-1-2 record on the year, while leading the division with 17 home wins.
In the absence of Karsums, the P-Bruins are led offensively by St. Pierre's 40 points, including a team-high 30 assists. Captain Jeremy Reich leads all active players with 15 goals. In net, Regan is 6-4-1 with a 3.33 GAA in 14 AHL games this season. On the other side, All-Star Mark Mancari paces the Pirates with 42 points. Fellow All-Star Tim Kennedy is first with 26 assists. Between the pipes, Jhonas Enroth is 17-11-2 with three shutouts and a 2.47 GAA in 33 contests.
On special teams, Providence continues to rank in the top 10 on both the power play (4th, 19.8%) and the penalty kill (10th, 83.9%). Portland is 25th in the AHL with the man-advantage, converting 14.8% of the time, but seventh on the penalty kill at 84.8%.
Tonight is Rhode Island Lottery Hat Night with hats free to the first 4,000 fans in attendance. Providence continues its three-game weekend tomorrow night, facing the Lowell Devils in Massachusetts at 7 p.m. at the Tsongas Arena. The P-Bruins wrap up the weekend with a special 2:05 p.m. start on Sunday as the Worcester Sharks skate into town for Martins Karsums Poster Day.
To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Providence Bruins ticket office at (401) 273-5000 or log on to the team website at providencebruins.com. Tickets may be purchased in person by visiting the Dunkin' Donuts Center Box Office or all TicketMaster outlets.