WILKES-BARRE TWP. – After dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals by a combined score of 12-7, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins battled the Providence Bruins to a 1-1 defensive stalemate through three periods.
It took the Bruins only 31 seconds to break it.
After both teams battled to a 1-1 tie in Wednesday’s Game 3, the Bruins’ Carter Camper connected just 31 seconds into the overtime period to send the Penguins to a 2-1 defeat. The loss puts the Penguins in a 3-0 hole and one loss away from elimination with Game 4 at home on Friday.
“Emotionally I think we’re pretty low right now,” said team captain Joey Mormina. “But we feel like we played our best game of the series. We can take comfort in the fact we played really hard.
“It was just one bounce that went their way.”
That bounce came in the overtime period when Alex Grant tried to send a pass up the ice out of the Penguins’ zone. Camper intercepted the puck inside the blueline and fed a pass to Jared Caron, who dished it over to Craig Cunningham for a shot. Brad Thiessen made the initial save, but the rebound went out to Camper on the side who put the puck home for the win.
After the Penguins spent three periods outplaying the top-seeded Bruins, it was all over in 31 seconds.
“That’s the playoffs,” said Trevor Smith. “It’s a tough loss. Emotionally. Physically. It’s tough to lose on a bounce like that.”
Through regulation, the Penguins outshot the Bruins 33-21 and killed off two Providence power plays.
After Providence jumped out to a 1-0 lead three minutes into the second period, the Penguins turned things up a notch and spent the majority of the frame in the Bruins’ zone.
Smith evened things up when a rebound popped out to the corner of the crease and he lifted it home for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Penguins outshot the Bruins 15-9 in the period and took the 1-1 tie into the third.
“We did a lot of things better,” said coach John Hynes. “The game was competitive both ways.”
With a renewed sense of desperation, the Penguins fired away in the third period. Providence goaltender Niklas Svedberg came up big several times, including a glove save on Derek Nesbitt with five minutes left.
Svedberg also allowed a ton of rebounds, and the Penguins came close on several occasions but couldn’t capitalize, including a power-play opportunity with less than four minutes remaining highlighted by several key stops from Svedberg.
“That’s why he’s one of the top goalies in the league,” Smith said. “He’s kicking them out pretty good. We have to keep getting pucks on him and bang a few home. Two or three, not one.”
While the Bruins’ game-winner came after Grant’s pass was picked off, none of his teammates was ready to place blame on the second-year defenseman.
“Hockey’s a game of mistakes. Everyone made mistakes tonight and sometimes it results in a goal, sometimes it doesn’t,” Mormina said. “Alex is a guy with character and we expect him to be really good on Friday night.”
- G Scott Darling, D Dylan Reese (injury), D Peter Merth, C Chris Barton, C Dominik Uher, LW Bobby Farnham, LW Anton Zlobin, LW Steve MacIntyre and D Harrison Ruopp were scratched for the Penguins.
- The Penguins postseason overtime record is now 22-17.
- Thiessen got the start in place of Jeff Zatkoff and stopped 20 of 22 shots. With a practice scheduled for today, Hynes said he hadn’t decided who will start Game 4 on Friday.
Providence 2 Penguins 1 overtime
Providence 0 1 0 1 — 2
Penguins 0 1 0 0 — 1
First Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – PRO, Bourque (slashing) 12:20; PRO, Hanson (boarding) 16:55; WBS, Sill (slashing) 19:00.
Second Period: Scoring – 1. PRO, Jared Knight 1 (MacKinnon) 3:04. 2. WBS, Trevor Smith 1 (Kolarik, Wild) 10:42. Penalties – PRO, Robins (roughing) 4:53; WBS, Nesbitt (slashing) 4:53.
Third Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, bench-served by Holzapfel (too many men) 3:51; PRO, Miller (slashing) 16:07.
Overtime: Scoring – 3. PRO, Carter Camper 7 (Cunningham, Caron) :31. Penalties - None.
Shots on goal: Providence – 5-9-7-1-22; Penguins – 5-15-13-0-33.
Power-play Opportunities: Providence – 0 of 2; Penguins – 0 of 3.
Goaltenders: Providence – Niklas Svedberg 6-2 (32 saves – 33 shots); Penguins – Brad Thiessen 1-1 (20-22).
Starters: Providence – G Niklas Svedberg, D Garnet Exelby, D Tommy Cross, LW Justin Florek, C Christian Hanson, RW Bobby Robins; Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D Joey Mormina, D Alex Grant, LW Jayson Megna, C Zach Sill, RW Christiaan Minella
Three Stars: 1. PRO, Carter Camper (game-winning overtime goal) 2. PRO, Niklas Svedberg (32 saves) 3. WBS, Trevor Smith (goal).
Referee – Mark Lemelin, TJ Luxmore. Linesmen – Jud Ritter, Bob Goodman
Attendance – 3,795