P-BRUINS LOOK TO EVEN SERIES TONIGHT
The Providence Bruins host the Portland Pirates this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals series. The Pirates captured Game 1 of the series on Wednesday night in Rhode Island by a 3-0 margin, led by Jhonas Enroth's 28-save shutout and two goals from Marek Zagrapan.
Providence kept Enroth busy with a flurry of offensive chances in a 15-shot opening period but the club was unable to convert after once hitting the post and having one would-be goal waved off. Zagrapan, meanwhile, scored his first goal of the game 4:23 into the contest, providing Portland a 1-0 lead that would stand until early in the third period. The Pirates added their second score at 1:42 of the third stanza when Felix Schutz was credited with an unassisted goal. Zagrapan later added an empty-net goal in the game's final minute to cap the victory and snap Portland's string of four straight Game 1 losses dating back to May 2, 2006. Enroth, who had three shutouts during the regular season, earned the blanking in his postseason debut.
Tuukka Rask took the loss for the P-Bruins despite 30 saves. Providence has not scored in the last six periods dating back to the regular season after netting goals in nine straight frames. That string came to an end with a 6-5 loss to Portland in Maine on April 10. Both teams were well disciplined in Game 1, combining for only four power plays and 18 penalty minutes. Of those PIM, 10 came when Providence's Ned Lukacevic and Portland's Kyle Rank dropped their gloves 5:25 into the first.
Neither team scored with the extra skater. The P-Bruins finished the regular season ranking 22nd on both the power play (15.3%) and the penalty kill (81.8%) while the Pirates were 14th on the man-advantage (17.0%) and eighth when short-handed (84.5%). Head to head, including the playoffs, Portland is 10-for-54 (18.5%) with the power play against Providence to the P-Bruins' 6-for-49 (12.2%) showing.
The P-Bruins finished the regular season with a 5-5-0-0 record against the Pirates while Portland compiled a 5-2-0-3 mark. Five of the 10 games were decided by one goal, three by two goals and two by three goals. The series features four of the league's top seven rookie scorers during the regular season, including Pirates Tim Kennedy (67 points and 49 assists) and AHL Rookie of the Year Nathan Gerbe (56 points and 30 goals), along with P-Bruins Brad Marchand (59 points and 41 assists) and Mikko Lehtonen (53 points and 28 goals). Marchand was an offensive force during the year against Portland, registering a series-high 14 points and 10 assists. On the other side, Pirates goals-leader Mathieu Darche netted nine of his 31 goals against Providence. Darche totaled 13 points in the season-series.
This series marks the fifth all-time playoff match-up between the two clubs. Providence is 1-3 in four prior series versus Portland, last facing off in the 2008 Division Finals, where the P-Bruins grabbed a 2-0 series lead before falling in four straight. Overall, the Pirates have won the last three series against the P-Bruins, including last season, the 2006 Division Semifinals and the 2004 Division Qualifying Series.
Providence is in the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 seasons with an all-time 14-13 series record and one Calder Cup championship in 1999.
Portland, meanwhile, won a championship in its first year in 1994 and has been to the postseason now 12 times in 16 seasons, sporting a 12-10 series record.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2008-09 Calder Cup Playoffs for Game 2 of the best-of-seven Atlantic Division Semifinals series against Portland. Game 2 will be played at The Dunk on Friday at 7:05 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the P-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.