WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Coming into Monday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, both the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins made some big changes to their lineups.
The Penguins dressed forwards Nick Drazenovic and Bobby Farnham — both of whom sat out Game 5, while defenseman Philip Samuelsson returned from an injury to play his first game in almost two months.
The Bruins started netminder Niklas Svedberg, who was benched for the last two games, and welcomed back gritty forward Bobby Robins, who served a three-game suspension.
In the end, the changes worked for the Bruins as Svedberg stopped 36 of 37 shots and Robins scored the game-winning goal to beat the Penguins 4-1. Alexander Khohklachev had two goals and an assist for the Bruins, who evened up the series to force a Game 7 on Wednesday.
It appeared the Penguins got on the board first early in the second period when Farnham stuffed in the puck from the corner of the crease. The goal was quickly waved off, however, after referee Mark Lemelin ruled that Svedberg was pushed over the line with the puck.
“The referee said (Svedberg) had it and I kind of pushed his pad back into the net,” Farnham said. “It was kind of similar to what they did in overtime in Game 4. it’s unfortunate. I thought it was still loose and I was hacking at it.”
While the Penguins dominated the majority of the first two period, outshooting the Bruins 25-10 at one point, it was Providence that got on the board with a couple of quick strikes.
Khohklachev got things going at 7:51 of the second period when he teamed up on a two-on-one with Matt Lindblad and finished with a shot over Peter Mannino’s stick.
Robins made it 2-0 minutes later when he put home a Khohklachev pass down low, forcing the Penguins to call a timeout.
Head Coach John Hynes said the “no goal” call on Farnham followed by a Providence tally minutes later put his team in a bad spot.
“I thought we needed to do a better job of responding to the combination of those two situations,” Hynes said.
Farnham said the Providence goal was harder to take than the call.
“That took a little wind out of our sails,” he said.
After that, things got worse for the Penguins.
Providence killed off the Penguins’ third power play of the night, a Samuelsson slashing call with three seconds left in the second period gave the Bruins a power play to start the third.
Once again, it was Khohklachev who made the Penguins pay when he slid home a loose puck in front to make it 3-0.
Special teams were a difference in the outcome, Hynes said, as the Penguins blanked on four power plays and the Bruins went 1-for-2.
The Penguins offense continued to produce shots and chances. Jayson Megna came close when he intercepted a Blake Parlett pass inside the zone, skated in front of the crease and made a nice toe drag before Svedberg made the stop.
Conor Sheary connected with a one-timer in front after the Penguins pulled Mannino for the extra attacker, and Brian Gibbons nearly made it 4-2 soon after with a great chance in the slot that Svedberg saved.
Hynes said Svedberg played well on the night, but a Penguins offense that generated 37 shots still has to improve for Wednesday’s Game 7.
“Overall the structure was good, but when you have a lot of shots on net and not a lot to show for it, you have to do a better job in certain areas and we’ll address that for Wednesday,” Hynes said.
• G Eric Hartzell, C Mike Carman, RW Carter Rowney, D Nick D’Agostino, D Harrison Ruopp, C Andrew Ebbett (injury), C Adam Payerl, RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, RW Bryan Rust, D Barry Goers, RW Josh Archibald and LW Scott Wilson were scratched for the Penguins.
Providence 4, Penguins 1
Scoring – None. Penalties – PRO, Khohklachev (hooking) 16:11.
Scoring – 1. PRO, Alexander Kohohklachev 6 (Lindblad) 7:51. 2. PRO, Bobby Robins 1 (Khohklachev, Knight) 12:56. Penalties – PRO, Cross (roughing) 3:46; WBS, Megna (roughing) 3:46; PRO, bench – served by Kane (too many men) 9:42; PRO, Knight (closing hand on puck) 17:31; WBS, Samuelsson (slashing) 19:57.
Scoring – 3. PRO, Alexander Khohklachev 7 (Spooner, Warsofsky) power play 1:36. 4. WBS, Conor Sheary 4 (Kostopoulos, Samuelsson) 17:03. 5. PRO, Ryan Spooner unassisted, empty net 18:11. Penalties – PRO, Randell (unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:50; WBS, Farnham (roughing) 9:50; PRO, Knight (tripping) 12:54; WBS, Kostopoulos (tripping) 15:21.
Shots on goal
Providence – 5-8-3-16
Penguins – 14-13-10-37
Providence – 1 of 2
Penguins – 0 of 4
Providence – Niklas Svedberg 4-4 (36 saves – 37 shots)
Penguins – Peter Mannino 6-4 (13-15)
Providence – D David Warsofsky, D Blake Parlett, LW Matt Lindblad, C Alexander Khohklachev, RW Seth Griffith
Penguins – D Reid McNeill, D Simon Despres, LW Bobby Farnham, C Zach Sill, RW Dominik Uher
1. PRO, Alexander Khohklachev (two goals, assist) 2. PRO, Niklas Svedberg (36 saves, one goal allowed) 3. WBS, Conor Sheary (goal)
Referee – Mark Lemelin, Darcy Burchell. Linesmen – Jud Ritter, Francis Trempe
Attendance – 3,563