DIVISION-LEADERS BATTLE IN RHODE ISLAND
Providence Hosts Manitoba to Conclude Busy Weekend
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (30-20-2-1, 63 PTS, 1st Atlantic) host the American Hockey League leading Manitoba Moose (37-14-0-5, 79 PTS, 1st North) this afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the teams' second of four regular season meetings in 2008-09. The P-Bruins edged the Moose 3-2 in a shootout last Friday in Rhode Island. Rookie Mikko Lehtonen was the game's top star with an assist and the deciding shootout goal while Tuukka Rask bested Boston College Eagles alum Cory Schneider for the win.
Lehtonen has been on a roll for Providence with eight goals and two assists in his last six games, most recently recording his first professional hat trick and an assist in the club's 6-5 shootout win over the Portland Pirates last night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. His linemates and fellow rookies Zach Hamill (4a) and Brad Marchand (g, 2a) also had stellar performances as Providence improved to 3-4-0-0 on the year against Portland. More notably, the P-Bruins are now 9-3 in extra session games, including a 6-1 shootout record. Rask earned the win, his third straight on the road, after relieving Kevin Nastiuk following overtime. Nastiuk blocked 34 shots through 65 minutes before Rask stopped four of five shootout attempts. Lehtonen scored in the shootout and Wacey Rabbit had the winner.
The Moose are in the midst of a 10-game road trip and they have been virtually flawless. The trip began with Manitoba's shootout loss in the Ocean State and the club is 3-0-0-2 overall with two wins over the Hartford Wolf Pack, including a 4-1 victory last night. Former P-Bruins Jason Krog had a goal and an assist to lead four different goal-scorers. Karl Goehring was in net, picking up the win with 26 saves. Manitoba is 16-2-0-3 in its last 20 games. The squad also paces the league with a 19-4-0-3 road record. The P-Bruins counter with one of the best home marks at 19-9-0-0.
Providence is led offensively by All-Star Martin St. Pierre's 44 points and he is tied with fellow All-Star Johnny Boychuk with a team-high 32 assists. Lehtonen is first with 19 goals thanks to his recent surge. Between the pipes, Rask is 22-16-0 with three shutouts and a 2.50 goals-against-average. On the other side, Manitoba All-Star Krog has 56 points, tied for fourth in the AHL. He leads the Moose with 38 assists, third in the league, while Michael Grabner, recently back from the Austrian National Team, has 21 goals. In the crease, All-Star Schneider is 19-3-1 with three blankings, a 1.69 GAA and a .935 save percentage, both tops in the league. Goehring is 15-9-2 with a 2.52 GAA.
On special teams, Providence's power play ranks tied for sixth in the league at 19.1% but its penalty kill has dipped to a tie for 13th-place (83.1%) after allowing man-advantage goals in seven chances last night. Manitoba sits tied for 18th with the power play at 16.5% but the Moose are tied for second at killing penalties, doing so at an 87.1% rate.
Today is a special Kids Hat Night giveaway as Providence Bruins Promotional Nights continue. Providence returns to action with three games next weekend, beginning on Friday as the Manchester Monarchs visit The Dunk at 7:05 p.m. for Winter Hat Night. The P-Bruins are on the road on Saturday, traveling north to Massachusetts to face the Worcester Sharks at 7:05 p.m. Providence wraps up the weekend next Sunday on Adam McQuaid Poster Night, battling the Springfield Falcons at 4:05 p.m.
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.