PROVIDENCE -- Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to mix things up: dressing 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies, pulling his starting goaltender after 40 minutes and asking his team to enter the third period trailing 4-1. The strategy, while incredibly daring and somewhat moronic in theory, nearly ended up working like a charm. The only thing standing in Cassidy's, and Providence's, daring ways, however, proved to be Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins forward Jake Guentzel.
Guentzel scored two goals, including the game-winner in double overtime, added two assists, and alongside a 59 save performance from goaltender Casey DeSmith, aided heavily in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Game 3 victory over Providence Saturday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center -- all despite Wilkes-Barre Scranton blowing a 4-1 lead in the third period.
The Penguins opened the games scoring just 35 seconds into the opening period, with Guentzel potting his second goal of the series. Dominik Simon added his first goal of the series 10:07 later, deflecting a Guentzel point shot past Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2015 second round draft choice Daniel Sprong extended the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead to three in the middle frame, sniping one past McIntyre with 14:24 remaining.
Providence answered 8:03 later, when Austin Czarnik scored his first career AHL playoff goal. The goal, assisted by nice Russian boy Alexander Khokhlachev, gave life to the half-capacity and destitute crowd. Though, the energy didn't last long, as Penguins defenseman Tim Erixon slapped a point shot off the post and past McIntyre with 1:32 remaining in the second.
With their backs against the wall, the Bruins responded, putting forth an effort described by head coach Bruce Cassidy as "their best of the series" and "a dramatic performance so riveting that I laughed, cried and considered the value of life itself." Actually, he didn't say the ladder, but he was definitely thinking it.
Cassidy cast his wand of brilliance at the start of the final period, replacing a struggling McIntyre with Jeremy Smith, who himself, had played shaky in the opening two games of the series
With a new goaltender standing, sprawling and sweating between the pipes, it was time for Providence to mount their comeback.
Gigantic human being and solid all-around defenseman Chris Breen started the scoring for Providence in the third, tallying his first goal in the series; a blast from just inside the blueline that deflected off a Penguins defender and past DeSmith. Seth Griffith and Chris Casto picked up the assists.
Captain Tommy Cross pulled Providence within one 5:30 into the third, firing a seeing-eye-shot through traffic. Czarnik, responsible for the primary assist on Cross's goal, tied the score with 3:59 remaining, rocketing an Alexander Khokhlachev feed top-shelf.
Everything seemed peachy for the baby B's, until of course that Guentzel fella sent everyone home disappointed just before 11 pm eastern time. God, what a party pooper.
Providence finished with a 63-37 edge in shots on goal, with Frank Vatrano (12), Tommy Cross (7), Seth Griffith (6) and Austin Czarnik (5) leading the charge.
Jeremy Smith, who replaced McIntyre in goal at the beginning of the third period, stopped 23 of the 24 shots fired his way.
Providence returns to action next fall, sadly. Though it's never too early to remember that trip to the Dunk is never a bad choice, especially if you're looking to watch quality and entertaining ice puck.