TOP ATLANTIC SQUADS CLASH TODAY
Providence Hosts Hartford in Race for First Place
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (38-25-2-5, 83 PTS, 2nd Atlantic) host the Hartford Wolf Pack (40-25-3-3, 86 PTS, 1st Atlantic) this afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the teams' sixth of eight regular season meetings in 2008-09. The P-Bruins lead the season-set 3-2-0-0, including a perfect 2-0-0-0 record in Rhode Island. The clubs last played on January 17, a 5-2 Providence win at the XL Center.
The P-Bruins enter today's game trailing the Wolf Pack by three points for first in the Atlantic Division. Providence has dropped consecutive games (0-1-0-1) since winning four straight contests while Hartford has quietly played some of the best hockey in the AHL of late, winning 13 of their last 16 games (13-2-1-0) since February 20. The Pack stretched its present win streak to three games with a 7-2 thumbing of the Springfield Falcons last night at the MassMutual Center. Providence, however, remains the top team in the division on home-ice with 23 wins and the club is unbeaten-in-regulation in its last five games at The Dunk (4-0-0-1).
Providence is led offensively by Martin St. Pierre's 58 points, including a team-best 44 assists. Rookie Mikko Lehtonen paces the P-Bruins with 25 goals, tied for first in the league among first-year players with Nathan Gerbe of the Portland Pirates. In net, Tuukka Rask is 29-19-3 with four shutouts and a 2.50 goals-against-average. He earned his most recent shutout in bizarre fashion, taking a shootout loss, 1-0, on Friday against the Albany River Rats. On the other side, Hartford's P.A. Parenteau leads his squad with 74 points, good for fourth in the AHL, and 46 assists. Artem Anisimov has tallied 29 goals, one ahead of Parenteau. Goalies Miika Wiikman (21-18-2, 2.73 GAA, two shutouts) and rookie Matt Zaba (19-9-0, 2.35 GAA, one shutout) have virtually split time between the pipes.
On special teams, Providence sits in the middle of the league on both the power play (16.6%, T-16th) and the penalty kill (82.3%, T-18th) while Hartford also finds itself in the center-10 with the man-advantage (17.7%, 11th) and at killing penalties (82.4%, 16th).
In the season-series, Providence's St. Pierre leads all scorers with six points, including two goals and four assists. His assist total is tied for first with teammate Johnny Boychuk. Several players have two goals apiece on both sides. For Hartford, Anisimov shows five points (2g, 3a). Rask (2-2-0, 2.23 GAA) and Wiikman (2-2-0, 2.54 GAA) have seen the bulk of the action in the crease.
Today is a Family Game at The Dunk as fans can purchase one ticket, hot dog and soda for one low price. Providence is next in action on Friday, welcoming the Manchester Monarchs into town for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. The game marks Adam McQuaid Bobblehead Night as Providence Bruins Promotional Nights continue. On Saturday, the P-Bruins return to the road to battle the Wolf Pack again in Connecticut at 7 p.m. The weekend wraps up next Sunday when Providence hosts the Worcester Sharks at 4:05 p.m. for a Team Poster giveaway.
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 www.providencebruins.com. Tickets may be purchased in person by visiting the Dunkin' Donuts Center Box Office or all TicketMaster outlets.