P-BRUINS TAKE AIM AT SERIES TIE
The Providence Bruins host the Hershey Bears this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals series. The Bears lead the best-of-seven set 2-1 after a 6-4 win in Rhode Island on Friday night.
P-Bruins defenseman Jeff Penner, who potted two power play goals and added an assist in Game 3, leads all players in the series with five points (3g, 2a). His three goals are matched on the other side by Bears forward Alexander Giroux, two of those also coming on Friday. Assist leaders in the series include Providence's Martin St. Pierre and Hershey's Keith Aucoin, each with three. In net, the Bears' Michal Neuvirth is 2-1 with a 2.69 goals-against-average. P-Bruin Tuukka Rask has countered with a 1-2 mark and 3.35 GAA. On special teams, Providence is 6-for-10 (60%) on the power play and 14-of-16 (87.5%) on the penalty kill while Hershey is 2-for-16 (12.5%) with the extra-attacker and 4-of-10 (40%) when short-handed.
Overall in the postseason, Rask is 9-5 with a 2.07 GAA and .934 save percentage for Providence, compared to Neuvirth's 10-4 mark, three shutouts, 2.07 GAA and .929 save percent for Hershey. Each team has three players in double-digits in scoring, the P-Bruins led by Martin St. Pierre (5g, 11a), Brad Marchand (6g, 7a) and Vladimir Sobotka (2g, 10a), and the Bears paced by American Hockey League Most Valuable Player Alexander Giroux (8g, 8a), Chris Bourque (3g, 11a) and former P-Bruin Keith Aucoin (2g, 12a). Meanwhile, Providence is converting on 28.1% of its power plays, good for second in the league and first among active teams, and 87.5% of its short-handed efforts, ranking fourth. On the other side, Hershey has been successful on 19.3% of its extra-man opportunities, fifth in the AHL, but the club sits 12th on the penalty kill at 78.8%.
The winner of this series moves on to the Calder Cup Finals and will play the Western Conference representative, either the Manitoba Moose or Houston Aeros. The Moose lead the Aeros 3-2 with Game 6 of their series on Monday night in Canada. The P-Bruins have advanced to the final round once in their 17 seasons, winning the Calder Cup in 1999. The storied Bears are in their 71st season in the AHL, having appeared in 20 Calder Cup Finals with nine championships. Most recently, Hershey won the 2006 Calder Cup and advanced to the 2007 Finals. This series marks the first-ever meeting between the P-Bruins and Bears in postseason play.
The 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs continue with Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. at The Dunk. If necessary, Game 6 and Game 7 will be played in Hershey on Wednesday and Thursday, each at 7 p.m. 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.