AHL Calder Cup: Providence Bruins take control of series with 4-2 triumph over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Jamie Tardif scored two goals and added two assists in the first period Saturday night. - Abelimages

Jamie Tardif and Chris Bourque broke the game open in the first period with a terrific display of offensive skill.

Providence, RI - The Bruins jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after one period, and held on for a 4-2 victory to take a commanding two-games-to-zero lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals. Jamie Tardif led the way offensively with two goals and two assists while Chris Bourque added a goal and two assists.

As has become customary for the Bruins during the playoffs, they fell behind early. Wilkes-Barre got the scoring started when Warren Peters scored a shorthanded goal from in back of the goal line. He banked the shot in off the back of Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg at the 4:40 mark of the first period.

Providence would even the game at one at the 5:48 mark when it scored the first of two power play goals in the first period. Jamie Tardif poked the puck into the back of the net from the top of the crease after some crisp passing down low between Carter Camper and Bourque.

Providence took the lead at the 11:24 mark when Ryan Spooner finished a terrific transition play. Jamie Tardif received the puck as he was streaking up the left side. With the puck in back of the goal line, he fed it over to Chris Bourque who faked a slap shot before finding a wide-open Spooner to the right of the net.

The Bruins took a two-goal lead at the 17:25 mark when they connected again on the man advantage. Tardif banged home his second goal of the period with assists going to Jamie Krug and Cunningham.

With 28.3 seconds to play in the opening frame, Bourque scored on a one-timer from the right side of the net. Tommy Cross and Tardif assisted on the tally that gave the Bruins a three-goal lead after one period.

It was quite a first period for Providence's first line of Spooner, Bourque and Tardif. "The puck seemed to be following us. There were a lot of nice plays by our "D" jumping up and we were able to put it in," said Tardif. When asked if he could ever remember scoring four points in a period, "I can't remember. I'll have to look back into the archives."

The movement on the power play has been terrific the last two games. The passes have been crisp and there have been numerous quality opportunities. "All playoffs our power play, our movement, has been unbelievable. Beginning of the year, we were trying to find our groove. Bourque controls the power play out there and Krug is coming into his groove," said Tardif.

Penguins' starter Jeff Zatkoff was chased from the game to start the second period. One of the best goalies in the AHL during the regular season, the former Miami (OH) star has given up 12 goals in just four periods this series. Backup goalie, and former Northeastern backstop, Brad Thiessen stopped all 16 shots he faced in relief.

The Penguins cut the lead to two with 5:43 to play in the second period while on the power play. Brian Gibbons knocked home a loose puck off a weird bounce. Joey Mormina took a slap shot that appeared to deflect off Paul Thompson, when Gibbons banged it past Svedberg.

The beginning of the third period was dominated by Wilkes-Barre, but it couldn't put the puck past Svedberg. The Penguins outshot the Bruins, 19-5, in the last period.

A night after two questionable hits drew the ire of both coaches, there was another hit that league officials will certainly evaluate. Warren Peters came from at least 20 feet away before leaving his feet and making contact with Bruins defenseman Zach Trotman's head.

"There were hits submitted yesterday and we'll submit that to the league. It's all judgment. We'll act accordingly. It's a physical series. They were probably responding to a hit yesterday. We'll do what we have to do to take care of it," said Cassidy.

The series now switches to Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre for games three, four, and five, if necessary. Providence knows all about coming back in a series, as they rebounded from a two-games-to-zero series deficit in the first round. The three games in Pennsylvania will be Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

"Our guys don't have a problem playing on the road. I think we won 24 or 25 road games during the regular season. We'll play the next two, three games on the road. That's what the schedule says," said Cassidy.

Jeff Cox covers college hockey and the American Hockey League Playoffs for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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