Trent Whitfield scored the shootout winner in the 7th round to propel the Providence Bruins over the Worcester Sharks 4-3 on Saturday night in Worcester. Niklas Svedberg stopped 6 of 7 shooters and made 45 saves en route to his 28th win of the season as the P-Bruins improved to 35-18-0-5 on the season. Christian Hanson scored his 9th of the season while Craig Cunningham added 2 power play goals and the only other Providence shootout goal to reach the 20-goal milestone on the season.
Cunningham’s 20 goals now place him 2nd on the team, behind Jamie Tardif with 26, but it also ties his personal best in the AHL when he had 20 goals as a rookie last season for Providence. Last season, Cunningham had 36 points in 76 games and is poised to beat that this season as he stands at 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 points in 58 games this season. Cunningham has scored 6 goals in the last 3 games.
Hanson also extended his own point-scoring streak with his 6th point in 5 games with his 3rd period goal. Hanson’s goal put the Bruins ahead 3-2 before Worcester tied it up in the final minute of play with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker.
Worcester opened up the scoring at 9:40 of the 1st period on Sebastian Stalberg‘s 9th of the year from Denny Urban and Tommy Grant. Svedberg denied Worcester the opportunity for a 2-goal lead when James Livingston was awarded a penalty shot at 13:33 of the 1st period. Svedberg has stopped both penalty shots he has faced this season – in November, he stopped Chad Kolarik, then of the Connecticut Whale – and leads the AHL with 6 shootout wins. Needless to say, Svedberg is excellent in one-on-one shooter situations.
Providence didn’t get on the scoreboard until 21 seconds into the 2nd period on a carry-over power play. Daniil Tarasov was sent to the penalty box for slashing at 19:06 of the first period, and Cunningham was able to convert on the power play. Cunningham’s 19th of the season came from Torey Krug and Chris Bourque. It was Bourque’s first point since returning to the AHL from Boston, and Krug’s first point in 5 games – since the end of February.
Cunningham scored his 20th of the season later in the 2nd period on a 2-man advantage. Adam Comrie went to the box at 10:16 of the 2nd for cross-checking and was joined by teammate (and older brother to Dougie Hamilton) Freddie Hamilton 35 seconds later when he was whistled for hooking. Bourque and Krug each picked up their 2nd assists of the night on Cunningham’s ensuing 5-on-3 goal, which marked his 20th of the season and 9th power play goal.
Providence stayed ahead for only a few minutes before Hamilton redeemed himself with his 8th goal of the season at 13:02 of the 2nd period, with assists from Travis Oleksuk and goaltender Harri Sateri.
The score remained locked at 2 until late in the 3rd period when Hanson scored his 9th of the season from Matt Bartkowski and Justin Florek at 16:36 of the 3rd period. Unfortunately, with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute of play, Worcester tied the game once again at 3 to send it to overtime. John McCarthy, who led all skaters with 8 shots on net, scored the game-tying goal at 19:00 of the 3rd; it was his 9th of the season from Bracken Kearns and Tarasov.
For the 5th time in 11 games this season, overtime produced no goals and the game went to a shootout. Denny Urban converted for Worcester and Cunningham for Providence, sending it to extra rounds. Trent Whitfield beat Sateri in the 7th round to give the P-Bruins the 2 points.
Providence went 2-for-3 on the power play and was a perfect 1-for-1 on the penalty kill as they pulled ahead to 6-3-0-2 in the season series versus the Sharks. They have 1 more game against the divisional rival this season.
The 3 stars of the game were: (3) Svedberg; (2) McCarthy; and (1) Cunningham. Providence faces off against the Connecticut Whale tomorrow afternoon at 3pm at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.