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Calder Cup Playoff Recap: WBS Sweeps Providence, 5-4 (2OT)

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WBS rookie Jake Guentzel explodes for a four-point night as the Penguins survive blowing a 3-goal lead to sweep the Bruins out of the playoffs. The Penguins must now wait for their next opponent.

Jake Guentzel
Jake Guentzel
WBS Penguins

The Calder Cup first round playoff series between the WBS Penguins and the Providence Bruins moved to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence on Saturday night, with the Penguins holding a 2-0 series lead and the Bruins desperate to continue their series.

Little bit of shuffling of lines for Game 3, as Daniel Sprong's outstanding game on Thursday and the clear chemistry he showed with Kael Mouillierat and Dustin Jeffrey elevated the dynamic rookie to the top line.  The captain's line remained intact, as it should have been, with Dominik Simon dropping to Jean-Sebastien Dea's line and Josh Archibald taking Sprong's place alongside Teddy Blueger and Tom Sestito.

FIRST PERIOD

Despite doing nothing to deserve being removed from the goal, Jeremy Smith was replaced for Game 3 by rookie Zane McIntyre, who went 14-8-7 in 31 games during the regular season with a 2.68 GAA and a save percentage of 89.8%.  It took all of 35 seconds for this plan, apparently to spark the Bruins to play the way they did in the regular season, to go awry.

That's Jake Guentzel continuing his standout series by slamming home a rebound.  Assists were given to Carter Rowney and Steve Oleksy just 35 seconds into the game.

WBS was then able to fend off the Providence power play, which despite finishing the season tops in the AHL, had only one successful conversion against the Penguins all season.  WBS was unable to convert on its first power play chance of the period, but they had no such problems on their second chance.

Kinda hard to see, but that's Dominik Simon with a tip-in of a Guentzel shot to give WBS a 2-0 lead, a lead they would see through to the end of the period.

SECOND PERIOD

The hits just kept on coming in the second 20 minutes, as just 12 seconds after Providence rookie Noel Acciari took a tripping call...

That goal was originally credited to Daniel Sprong, who unleashed that wicked shot from the point, but it was later changed to Jean-Sebastien Dea on the deflection, then back to Sprong when it was determined that Dea never did touch the puck.

As they had done the previous two games, Providence would not go away quietly.

Quite a shot right there from the Bruins' Czarnik to draw the Bruins back to within two at 13:39 of the second.  Unlike the last two nights, however, the Penguins answered right back...

Casey DeSmith continued his stellar play in net for the rest of the period, punctuating the end of the second session with an outstanding glove save on Frank Vatrano, his 16th save of the period on 17 Providence shots, to send WBS to the locker rooms up 4-1 and 20 minutes away from an inexplicable sweep of the Bruins.

THIRD PERIOD

Cassidy's gambit to play the rookie McIntyre clearly did not work, so he restored Jeremy Smith to the net for the start of the third period.  This seemed to spark his team much more than his original decision, as Chris Breen brought the Bruins to within two just 2:22 into the first.

Then, with only four seconds remaining on a tripping call to Steve Oleksy, the Providence captain, Tommy Cross, scored his first of the series.

The onslaught continued, with Providence continuing to run up the shots, but DeSmith managed to stop them all until 3:59 to go in the 3rd, when Providence's bread and butter, offense from turnovers, struck.

That's Will O'Neill with a very untimely turnover in his own zone to Alexander Khokhlachev, who sent it over to Czarnik for the equalizer.  Providence would end up outshooting WBS 20-5 in the third for a total of 37-10 over the final two periods.

OVERTIME

The first 20 minutes of overtime passed without any scoring, with Smith parrying all 10 of WBS's shots and DeSmith defending all 13 Providence shots he faced.  WBS got a rare 5 on 3 PP in the second overtime, forced by a delay of game penalty to Khokhlachev for clearing the puck out of play in his own zone and a Brandon DeFazio slashing penalty, but the Bruins were able to kill off all of the penalties.  Despite Providence putting 63 shots on DeSmith for the game, the rookie stood his ground, and at 13:52 of the second overtime, the unthinkable happened.

That's Jake Guentzel taking a feed from the captain, Tom Kostopoulos, and roofing his second goal of the night to take down the Bruins once and for all 5-4 in double-overtime and complete the sweep.

For the game, DeSmith took third star honors with an incredible 59 saves.  Second star of the night was Austin Czarnik, with two goals and an assist, including the regulation equalizer, but top star on the night (and dare I suggest the series) was Jake Guentzel for the Penguins, with two goals and two assists on the evening and a total of three goals and four assists for 7 points in the series.

WBS will now enjoy a lengthy break to recover, as they will face the winner of the series between the Hershey Bears and the Portland Pirates.  Portland took Game 1 on Friday, April 22, 6-4, but Hershey took Game 2 on Saturday, 3-1.  Those two teams will now travel to GIANT Center in Hershey for the remainder of the series, with Game 3 on Thursday, April 28, Game 4 on Saturday, April 30, and if needed Game 5 on Sunday, May 1.  If Hershey wins the series, the Bears will hold home-ice over the Penguins; should Portland win, WBS would hold home-ice in round 2.

Well done, Penguins.  I begged you to prove me wrong by picking against you, and you did so marvelously.  Now, we continue.