Providence Takes Aim at Five-Point Weekend in Hosting Portland

Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (31-32-3-3, 68 PTS, 5th Atlantic) host the Portland Pirates (42-18-5-2, 91 PTS, T-1st Atlantic) this afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for the teams' 10th of 12 regular season meetings in 2010-11. On the year, the P-Bruins are 3-6-0-0 versus the Pirates, including a 2-2-0-0 mark in Rhode Island. 

Providence earned a point on the road in Connecticut last night, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Whale. It took eight rounds to determine a winner, when Francis Lemieux became the hero for Connecticut. On the bright side, Trent Whitfield had his second straight multiple-point game, netting a goal and an assist in back-to-back nights, and the captain is now riding an eight-game point-streak.

The Pirates have won their last two games and are 8-1-0-0 in their last nine contests. Portland is tied with Manchester atop the Atlantic Division, but has played five fewer games than its rival from the Granite State, and also has one more win.

Looking at the playoff race, the P-Bruins have 11 games remaining in the regular season and trail the East Division's Binghamton Senators by nine points for the final postseason slot. Providence is also six points behind Worcester, currently fourth in the Atlantic. It will not be an easy road ahead if the P-Bruins are to make a run, but they can take fate into their own hands with three games each left against the Pirates and Sharks, two with the Whale and one apiece versus the Senators, Monarchs and Falcons.

Jamie Arniel's 41 points are a P-Bruins team-high, while Max Sauve leads the way with 19 goals. Zach Hamill has the most assists of all P-Bruins with 32. The Pirates' leading goal and point scorer, Mark Mancari, is currently up with the Buffalo Sabres. Marc-Andre Gragnani is Portland's overall leader in assists (44) and active leader in points (55). Luke Adam paves the way in the goals department for current players with 25, and the rookie is also in the midst of a nine-game point-streak.

Providence net-minder Anton Khudobin is 24-13-2 with a 2.50 GAA, a .911 save percentage and two shutouts on the 2010-11 season, playing eight games as a P-Bruin. Backup goalie Michael Hutchinson is 10-9-1 with a 3.25 GAA, .900 save percentage and one shutout to his credit. On the other side, Portland goalie David Leggio is the team leader in shutouts (2), GAA (2.56), wins - sporting a 21-5-0 record - and save percentage (.917). Backup Jeff Jakaitis has also spent time on the Worcester roster and has a 2-2-0 record with a 3.70 GAA and .901 save percentage on the season.

The aforementioned Mancari leads all scorers in the season-series with nine goals and 13 points. Of the active AHL players, T.J. Brennan and Gragnani are tied for the team leaders in assists (7) and points (9) against Providence. Paul Byron has the most goals (4). Whitfield and Jordan Caron have the most points against Portland of any P-Bruins player, showing seven. Whitfield leads the team in goals (3), while Caron paces the club in assists (5).

Leggio has a 1-1-0 record against the P-Bruins, including a 2.53 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Jakaitis is 2-0-0 against Providence this year, with one start each for the Pirates and Sharks. He has a 3.36 GAA against the Ocean State club, and has blocked 91.4% of the shots he's faced. Hutchinson leads the P-Bruins with a 3.77 GAA and an .895 save percentage. He has a 1-2-0 mark against Portland. Khudobin lost his only match-up against the Pirates, allowing five goals.

The P-Bruins rank 28th in the AHL on both the power play (13.5%) and the penalty kill (78.1%). The Pirates are 13th (18.4%) on the man-advantage (18.4%) and 8th (84.4%) when killing off penalties.

The P-Bruins travel to Worcester on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. match-up with the Sharks, before traveling to Binghamton on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Providence will return home next Sunday to host the Whale on Lip Balm Night, free to the first 1,000 fans, 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.

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