DIVISION FINALS NOW A BEST OF THREE
The Providence Bruins host the Worcester Sharks this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for Game 5 of the Atlantic Division Finals series. The Route 146 rivals each have two wins in the best-of-seven set. The P-Bruins claimed the first two games of the series by a 7-4 margin but the Sharks have forced the series tie by winning the last two games by a combined 6-3 score, most recently taking Game 4 on Saturday with a 1-0 shutout at the DCU Center. Overall, each team has scored 10 goals in the series.
Through the first four games of the series, P-Bruins Brad Marchand and Martin St. Pierre are tied with a series-high five points as each shows two goals and three assists. Jamie McGinn has a series-best three goals to lead three Sharks with three points apiece. In net, Tuukka Rask (2.21 GAA, .924 SV%) and Thomas Greiss (2.20, .920 SV%) are each 2-2. The Game 4 shutout for Greiss was his second playoff blanking and third shutout in his last 11 games dating back to the regular season after not posting a shutout in his first 143 AHL starts. The teams have combined for 246 penalty minutes in the series. Worcester's Brett Westgarth leads all offenders with 38 minutes while Providence's Vladimir Sobotka has 27 PIM. On special teams, the P-Bruins are 4-for-15 (26.7%) on the power play and 11-of-13 (84.6%) with the penalty kill to the Sharks' respective 2-for-13 (15.4%) and 11-of-15 (73.3%) totals.
Providence is trying to avoid a similar fate to last season when the club took a 2-0 lead in the Division Finals over the Portland Pirates before falling in four consecutive games. Worcester, meanwhile, looks to repeat its feat from this year's Division Semifinals when the Sharks were down 2-0 to the Hartford Wolf Pack before winning four straight to advance to the present round. No team in American Hockey League history has ever come from down 2-0 to win two series in a single postseason. Overall in the playoffs, Providence is led by St. Pierre's 10 points and seven assists, while Marchand holds the goals lead at four. Worcester is paced by Riley Armstrong's 11 points and nine assists. Seven Sharks have scored three goals each. In net, Rask is 6-3 with a 1.65 GAA and .944 save percentage to Greiss's 6-4 mark, two shutouts, 2.02 GAA and .924 save percent. On special teams, the P-Bruins power play ranks fifth at 19.4% (7-for-36) while the Sharks are 11th at 12.2% (6-for-49). The penalty kill has Providence standing tall at 90.9% (30-of-33), tied for second in the league, and Worcester at 10th at 82.6% (38-of-46).
The 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs continue with Game 6 of the Atlantic Division Finals Wednesday night in Worcester at 7:05 p.m. Should there be a Game 7, the series will return to Rhode Island on Thursday for a 7:05 p.m. start. To purchase tickets for P-Bruins playoff action or for more information, call (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.
Atlantic Division Finals Series Game by Game Notes (Series Tied 2-2)
Game 1 (3-2 Providence in OT in RI): The P-Bruins took the series opener behind Jeremy Reich's overtime goal 6:19 into the extra session. Providence had previously scored in each of the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead on goals by Martin St. Pierre and Brad Marchand (PP). Worcester winger Jamie McGinn, assigned to the Sharks by San Jose earlier in the day, made his postseason debut and erased the P-Bruins lead with a pair of goals, including one with 5:21 remaining in regulation. St. Pierre and Marchand each recorded a goal and an assist while Worcester's Jason Demers tallied a pair of helpers. In net, Tuukka Rask earned the win with 35 saves and Thomas Greiss saw an end to his four-game win streak despite 24 blocked shots. Worcester out-shot Providence 37-27 but the P-Bruins held the edge, 6-2, in overtime. Each team scored once on the power play, Providence in three chances and Worcester in four opportunities.
Game 2 (4-2 Providence in MA): The P-Bruins took a 2-0 series lead behind goals in all three periods, including two in the final stanza. Martin St. Pierre gave Providence a 1-0 lead with just 57 seconds left in the first, providing the P-Bruins a brief lead before Worcester's Riley Armstrong netted his first goal of the postseason 3:42 into the second to tie the game. Johnny Boychuk put Providence ahead again less than four minutes later with his club on a 5-on-3 power play. Kirk MacDonald extended the P-Bruins lead to 3-1 early in the third. Dan DaSilva brought the Sharks back within a goal but Wacey Rabbit iced the game with an empty-net goal. St. Pierre (g, a), Rabbit (g, a) and Jeremy Reich (2a) each enjoyed multiple-point games. The teams combined for 94 penalty minutes (49-45 Worcester), all but 16 occurring in the final minute of the game after Rabbit's goal. The P-Bruins scored once in three man-advantage chances while holding the Sharks scoreless on their lone power play. Tuukka Rask earned the win with 22 saves and Thomas Greiss suffered the loss with 29 stops.
Game 3 (5-3 Worcester in RI): The Sharks took a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Patrick Traverse (PP) and T.J. Fox and held the lead the rest of the way, though the P-Bruins three times cut two-goal deficits down to one. Andrew Desjardins, Jamie McGinn and Riley Armstrong (EN) also netted goals for Worcester. Providence received its goals from Brad Marchand, Jeff Penner (PP) and Mikko Lehtonen (PP). The goals for Penner and Lehtonen were the first of their playoff careers. Marchand (g, a) and Vladimir Sobotka (2a) had multiple-point games for Providence while Worcester's Ryan Vesce (2a) had his team's only multi-point outing. Tuukka Rask took the loss to with 26 saves to snap his and the team's six-game winning streak. Thomas Greiss earned the win with 25 stops. Each team compiled 41 penalty minutes and had four power plays with the P-Bruins scoring two goals to the Sharks' one.
Game 4 (1-0 Worcester in MA): The P-Bruins were shutout for the 10th time this season and second in the playoffs. It was the second blanking of the postseason for Thomas Greiss, who made 26 saves. Tuukka Rask also stopped 26 shots. Each team mounted significant offensive pressure with the Sharks out-shooting the P-Bruins 14-2 in the first period and Providence returning the favor with a 13-3 showing in the third stanza. Tom Cavanagh scored the only goal 4:41 into the opening frame. Neither team scored on the power play, the P-Bruins in five chances and the Sharks in four opportunities. The teams combined for 52 penalty minutes.Providence's Jamie Arniel made his professional debut.