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Calder Cup Playoffs Game 3 Recap: WBS 2, Providence 1

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WBS takes a 2-1 series lead on the strength of offense from its defenders.

WBS Penguins

The Providence Bruins came within 63 seconds of fully defending its home ice against the WBS Penguins last weekend, having pocketed a 2-1 win on Friday and holding a 5-4 lead on Sunday. A Josh Archibald goal out of a scrum and a Derrick Pouliot goal off of the back of Zane McIntyre later, though, and WBS was able to bring a road split back to the friendly confines of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the conclusion of their division semifinal series. The two sides contested Game 3 on Thursday night, the only game in the AHL last night.

No changes in the WBS lineup from Game 2 to Game 3.

1st Period

Buoyed by a boisterous, clapper-slamming crowd of 4,272, the Penguins came out flying, dominating the Bruins in possession and shots to the tune of 13-5 in the first period despite conceding two penalties (Jean-Sebastien Dea for interference far behind the play at 5:09, then Ryan Haggerty for hooking at 19:01). The Penguins were able to dispatch both penalties rather easily and aggressively, seemingly correcting the main problem they were facing in Providence. While the Penguins were able to control the play and the shot board, Zane McIntyre came to play, stopping everything he saw in the first 20 to get the Bruins to the locker room scoreless.

2nd Period

Things got very, very confusing in the second period. As he was heading off on a line change, Oskar Sundqvist put a hard shoulder into Providence’s Sean Kuraly, joining the P-Bruins lineup for the first time following Boston’s elimination at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. Kuraly took great exception, instigating a fight with Sundqvist. Kuraly got the instigator trifecta of 2, 5, and 10, but there was great consternation in the arena when Sundqvist’s penalties were announced as 5 for fighting and a game misconduct for a fight strap violation.

Consternation turned to confusion as Sundqvist was found to still be in the penalty box and later rejoining his teammates on the bench despite his announced game misconduct. As it happens, AHL Rule 46.13 states:

A player who is involved in an altercation, when the opponent has been identified as an instigator, shall not be assessed a game misconduct penalty if his jersey should be removed by an opponent or an official in the discharge of his duties, regardless as to whether or not he was “tied-down” (jersey properly fastened to pants).

This was not announced to the crowd until the end of the second period. By that time, WBS was unable to convert the instigator power play, nor a second power play given by a cross-checking minor to Rob O’Gara for slamming a Penguin into the boards in front of the WBS bench. They did kill a Teddy Blueger boarding call, though, and with Tyler Randell in the box for high sticking at 18:04...

Jackpot. What amazing patience and vision shown by Tim Erixon to drop the defender early to block, then thread a shot like that over McIntyre’s shoulder.

1-0 WBS after two periods. Shots were 13-12 WBS in the second, for a two-period total of 26-17.

3rd Period

Following the anticipated heavyweight prize fight between Randell and Tom Sestito, and with former Penguin Alex Grant in the Providence penalty box for holding...

On a faceoff play eerily similar to his second goal in Providence on Sunday, David Warsofsky unleashed a vicious slap shot to beat McIntyre for WBS’s second power play goal of the night and a 2-0 lead.

As the third period wore on, control started to flip back to Providence, as the Bruins desperately tried to avoid a 2-1 series deficit. With Josh Archibald in the box on a double-minor for high sticking, the Bruins were able to cut the lead in half.

They could get no closer.

Despite outshooting WBS 16-6 in the third period, Penguins starting goaltender Casey DeSmith was able to shut down all other attempts at an equalizer, ending with 32 saves on 33 shots to see the WBS lead through to full time.

Final Score: WBS 2, Providence 1, series lead to WBS 2-1.

DeSmith’s efforts were good enough for third star honors on the evening, with second honors to Tim Erixon and top honors to David Warsofsky. Personally, I’d give a fourth star to Sundqvist; he was that good in Game 3, even though he recorded no points.

There is no rest for the wicked, however, as Game 4 between the Penguins and Bruins takes place tonight. Should Providence prevail tonight, the deciding Game 5 will be contested on Sunday afternoon.

For more coverage of WBS/Providence, swing on over to Stanley Cup of Chowder.

Let’s take a quick look at the other first-round series in the American Hockey League to get you ready for the weekend:

  • Lehigh Valley/Hershey: Hershey won both games in Lehigh Valley to bring the series back to GIANT Center with two chances to win the series. Their first chance took place on Wednesday, but Lehigh Valley won Game 3 in overtime thanks to a Chris Conner breakaway. The two teams will play Game 4 tomorrow night, with the potential deciding Game 5 back in Lehigh Valley on Sunday if needed. Stay tuned to our friends at Broad Street Hockey for continuing coverage of this series from the Phantoms’ perspective, as well as Japers Rink for the Bears.
  • Syracuse/St. Johns: The IceCaps won Game 1 of this series last Friday, April 21, but dropped Game 2 in double-overtime a day later. The Crunch prevailed in Game 3 on Wednesday, setting up a potential series clincher tonight at the War Memorial in Syracuse. If Game 5 is needed, it will be at the War Memorial tomorrow. Our friends at Raw Charge and Eyes on the Prize will have all the coverage you need from the Crunch and IceCaps, respectively.
  • Toronto/Albany: Albany took Game 1 of this series last Thursday, April 20, by a 3-0 home shutout. Toronto rebounded two nights later to overcome the Devils 6-2 to take a road split back to Ricoh Coliseum. The Marlies won Game 3 on Wednesday 3-2 in overtime, and they will play Game 4 tonight with a chance to clinch. The deciding Game 5, if needed, will be in Toronto on Saturday. Stay tuned to the Pension Plan Puppets for all of your Marlies news, as well as All About the Jersey for your Albany Devils updates.
  • Central Division: In the most tightly scheduled of the first-round series, the Chicago Wolves and Charlotte Checkers played their five-game series over the course of only seven days, with Chicago winning the deciding Game 5 3-2 this past Wednesday to advance to the Central Division finals. Awaiting them will be the Grand Rapids Griffins, who dispatched the Milwaukee Admirals in a three-game sweep. Chicago and Grand Rapids will play the Central Division finals starting next Wednesday, May 3. Stay tuned to Winging It In Motown for coverage of the Griffins, while St. Louis Game Time will keep tabs on the Wolves.
  • Pacific Division: The series between the Western Conference champion San Jose Barracuda and the Stockton Heat, as well as the series between the San Diego Gulls and Ontario Reign, are tied at 1. Tonight sees Game 3 of both series, with SJ/STK Game 4 on Sunday and SD/ONT Game 4 on Monday. If needed, Game 5 for both series will be next Tuesday, May 2. Fear the Fin will watch the Barracuda, while Matchsticks and Gasoline will watch Stockton. Anaheim Calling will watch the Gulls, and Jewels from the Crown will watch over Ontario.

See you tomorrow for my Game 4 recap, one way or another.