Last night, the Providence Bruins (24-18-1-5) beat the St. John's Ice Caps (26-17-1-2) by a score of 3-2 in St. John's, Newfoundland. The win snapped a seven game winning streak for the Ice Caps, who were looking to set a new club record with an eight win. They will look to make it two in a row when the two teams play again tonight in St. John's
The two points are very significant for Providence, who went 6-7-0-0 in the month of January and were 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games before last night. The tough stretch caused them to fall out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and allowed the Ice Caps to leapfrog them in the Atlantic Division standings.
Providence currently remains on the outside looking in for the playoffs; they are tied with the Hershey Bears for eight place with 54 points, but Hershey has played three fewer games. In the Atlantic Division, Providence is one point behind the Ice Caps for second place. A win tonight would put Providence back on top of St. John's.
Recap: P-Bruins 3, Ice Caps 2
After a scoreless first period in which St. John's was out-shot by Providence 12-8, Matt Lindblad opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the second period on a great feed from behind the net by Nick Johnson.
Adam Lowry of the Ice Caps tied the score four minutes later while on the power play and the game remained tied going into the third period.
While on the power play midway through the second period, Joe Morrow sustained what appears to be a serious knee injury. He had to be helped off the ice and replays show his knee bending in a way that knees should never bend.
Providence was down to five defensemen for the rest of the night. Already missing one of their top d-men in David Warsofsky who is on recall with Boston, it became imperative to improve defensive zone coverage against a highly skilled Ice Caps team that had defeated the P-Bruins twice at the end of January.
The second period shot totals were 10-13 in favor of the Ice Caps and 22-21 in favor of the P-Bruins through two periods. Both goaltenders were playing well. Penalties were kept to a minimum, but would benefit Providence in the third despite being on the penalty kill.
Halfway through the third period while killing off a questionable hooking penalty to Matt Lindblad, Matt Fraser helped spring Craig Cunningham on a breakaway. He made a nice move to beat Hutchinson and make it 2-1 with the shorthanded goal, which was his team-leading 18th of the season.
Although the Ice Caps would come back to within a goal a little over a minute later, the P-Bruins were able to withstand the late push from their opponent and secure a very important victory. The final shot totals were 31-29 in favor of Providence. Hutchinson made 28 saves while Subban made 27.
3. Alexander Khokhlachev
2. Michael Hutchinson
1. Matt Lindblad
The lines and defensive pairings last night were as follows:
Craig Cunningham - Ryan Spooner - Matt Fraser
Justin Florek - Matt Lindblad - Nick Johnson
Anthony Camara - Alexander Khokhlachev - Bobby Robins
Joe Mororw - Zach Trotman
- 2nd, 0:27: Lindblad (7) (Johnson, Morrow)
- 2nd, 4:33: Lowry (9, PPG) (Samson, O'Neill)
- 3rd, 11:10: Cunningham (18, SHG) (Fraser)
- 3rd, 15:07: Camara (8) (Khokhlachev)
- 3rd, 16:43: Chariot (4)
Courtesy of the St. John's Ice Caps:
Preview: P-Bruins @ Ice Caps, 6pm EST.
|Division Rank||3rd in Atlantic||2nd in Atlantic|
|Conference Rank||9th in Eastern||6th in Eastern|
|Home/Away||Away: 14-9-0-3||Home: 12-7-1-2|
|Leading After 1||12-2-0-2||14-2-0-1|
|Trailing After 1||4-12-0-0||3-7-1-0|
|Tied After 1||8-4-1-3||9-8-0-1|
|Leading After 2||16-1-1-3||21-1-0-1|
|Trailing After 2||1-13-0-1||1-11-1-0|
|Tied After 2||7-4-0-1||4-5-0-1|
|PP%||21.6%% (38-for-176)||20.9% (50-for-239)|
|PP Home/Away||Away: 25.9% (21-for-81)||Home: 19.2% (20-for-104)|
|PK Home/Away||Away: 76.8%||Home: 83.9%|
The only obvious change tonight will be Steve Spinell in the lineup due to Joe Morrow's injury.
Morrow's injury obviously looked pretty bad. Here are the updates we have on it so far:
Joe Morrow's left leg injury will be evaluated tomorrow. 'Probably not good news,'' according to Bruce Cassidy.— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) February 5, 2014
Joe Morrow will have MRI on Fri. after @AHLBruins return from St. John's, according to Bruce Cassidy. No word yet if it's a sprain or worse— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) February 5, 2014
Malcolm Subban is also going to get the start in net again tonight. Subban has a record of 8-6-2 in 18 appearances this season. He has a save percentage of 0.922 and a goals against average of 2.28. Subban also has recorded one shutout. And one goalie fight.
If Hutchinson doesn't start again, it'll be Eddie Pasquale. Prior to Hutch's recent hot streak, he was Pasquale's backup. Hutchinson has a record of 6-2-0 in nine games with one shutout, a 0.925 save percentage and GAA of 2.26. Pasquale has a 16-13-1 record in 30 games with one shutout, a 0.920 save percentage, and 2.42 GAA.
With injury to Camper, Nick Johnson has taken the lead in scoring on the P-Bruins. He has been a good leader all around, on and off the score sheet. He has 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points in 39 games. Craig Cunningham is second on the team in scoring (18-14-32) and is just two goals away from hitting the 20-goal mark in all three of his seasons in the AHL.
Justin Florek (11-16-27) and Koko (10-17-27) round out the top scorers for Providence. Morrow is currently fifth on the team in scoring and first among defensemen, although he will obviously be out with injury for at least a little while. Behind Morrow and Warsofsky in scoring, Seth Griffith is the fifth leading scorer that is playing tonight (11-14-25).
Providence is 3-3-0-0 against St. John's this season. Nick Johnson, who opened the P-Bruins season with the overtime winner against the Ice Caps back in October, has seven points in six games versus St. John's (three goals, four assists). Matt Fraser has five points (3-2), followed by four points each for Cunningham (3-1), Morrow (2-2), and Spooner (0-4).
Spooner was utilized in important situations last night, mainly in the final minutes as the team defended a one-goal lead. He won a few important faceoffs, and overall played well. He finally appears to be overcoming the plague or whatever he had that kept him sick. He will opt to sit out of the AHL All-Star Game during the Olympic Break, however.
Providence should be prepared for a more difficult Ice Caps team tonight looking to avenge last night's loss. Let's hope they are ready.