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Providence Bruins fall to Worcester Sharks in shootout, 3-2

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Providence Bruins fall to Worcester Sharks in shootout, 3-2

PROVIDENCE The Providence Bruins didnt get the twopoints on Sunday afternoon, but they probably should have.

The P-Bruins outshot the Worcester Sharks by a 53-32 marginand dominated long stretches of the contest, but ended up falling to the Sharksin the shootout by a 3-2 score at the Dunkin Donuts Center. For the weekend,however, Providence took five out of six points continuing to place themselvesin an improving position within the Eastern Conference.

Were disappointed but were not discouraged, saidP-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. We wanted that additional point today, but wetook five out of six points. Thats been our best weekend so far, so well takeit.

James Sheppard scored as the first Sharks shooter in theextra session shootout and five Providence players were kept off the board tohand Worcester the extra point. Sharks goalie Harri Sateri went into thecontest featuring an ugly 3.64 goals against average and a weak .867 savepercentage, but he turned away nearly everything the P-Bruins threw at himwhile making 51 saves.

That helped tip the scales for a Worcester team thats beenlooking for some good goaltending.

Christian Hanson scored his second goal in as many gameswhen he pushes a shot past Sateri in the first period, and Providence appearedin complete control while outshooting the Sharks by a 25-8 margin. But theP-Bruins had a skater fall down during a power play at the end of first thatopened the door for a Yann Gourde shorthanded strike that tied things up with20 seconds to go in the first.

That killed Providences momentum and set up another evenperiod where Justin Florek and Tyler Kennedy traded goals. Floreks score washis first AHL goal of the season in 16 games while Kennedy sniped a top shelfbomb past Niklas Svedberg. Both sides battled to an even third period beforeProvidence dominated the overtime, but it took the always-exciting shootout toeventually decide things.

GOLD STAR: Hanson had two points and a first period goal that attempted to set the tone for the P-Bruins, and he had three shots on net. That the big-bodied center was able to do it after losing linemate Lane MacDermid to a first-period injury and adjusting to the introduction of Justin Florek to their line makes it all the more impressive. Even better Hanson was one of the players instrumental in getting Philadelphia Flyers scoutYou Can Play Executive Director Patrick Burke into the dressing room following the game to talk about ending homophobic slurs in the hockey locker room. All of that adds up to a massive impact on and off the ice on Sunday. Clearly, Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri was the player of the gamewith 51 saves in a stand-on-your-head type effort.

BLACK EYE: Jordan Caron and Ryan Spooner are two of the biggest offensive talents on the P-Bruins roster, but both were resoundingly silent Sunday. They both finished with one shot on goal apiece, and its amazing to think they barely had any offensive impact on a day when Providence had 50 plus shots on net. While Spooner has clearly done his offensive duty as the second-leading scorer on Providence this season, Caron could stand to pick up some offensive steam with five goals and seven points in 19 AHL games.

TURNING POINT: Providence could have put Worcester away by burying a few more of their first period chances while they were ringing up 25 shots on net, and MacDermid was smacking his only scoring chance of the game off the post before going down with an upper body injury. But instead the P-Bruins surrendered a short-handed goal in the closing seconds of the first period that tied things up, and all of their potential momentum was gone. Its been a common malady for Providence this year: outshooting opponents but having little to show for it at the end of the offensive outburst. It really speaks to needing more finishers on offense.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 the number of shots on net for defenseman Zach Trotman, who has shown a tremendous ability early in his career to snake points shots through traffic all around the net. Thats something any NHL defensemen corps can use more of.

QUOTE TO NOTE: If you watched our games this weekend, I think our team is really coming together. Were starting to play the type of game thats going to make us effective: getting pucks deep, banging bodies and getting pucks to the net. Its simple hockey that I think the Bruins play top to bottom. Christian Hanson, who put together back-to-back multiple point games on Saturday and Sunday.

Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

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Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

The entire concept of Tuukka Rask getting pushed by one of his backups is based on the backup consistently performing at a high standard, and that wasn’t the case for Anton Khudobin over the weekend.

Just as it isn’t solely the fault of Rask when the Bruins lose, it wasn’t solely the fault of Khudobin that Boston squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Saturday night. But Khudobin couldn’t step up and carry the B's when they clearly started losing their edge in the second half of the game, and that inconsistency will certainly make the Bruins pine for a sooner-rather-than-later return of a concussed Rask.

“Erratic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy when asked to describe Khudobin postgame. “He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. He certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him. But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.”

It was certainly too much to expect Khudobin to be perfect, but they just needed him to be good enough to pull them through while they were getting waylaid in the second half of the game. That proved to be a major challenge, given the players the Bruins are missing and the extremely rough night suffered by Torey Krug (minus-3 on Saturday night, and minus-8 for the season). Khudobin finished with 37 stops as a defense corps without Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller wilted in the third period and the overtime, but he couldn’t make the clean saves for whistles when the team really needed them. Case in point was a Rasmus Ristolainen tester in overtime while the Bruins were in the midst of being outshot by a 6-0 margin in the extra session. Khudobin got a glove on it but couldn’t cleanly catch it for a badly needed stoppage in play at a time when Krug, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had been caught on the ice for over two minutes.

"The start was great, and the game was great until we scored the fourth goal, and I think after that, we thought it was an easy game,” said Khudobin. “[The high volume of shots] wasn’t that much difficult, I like shots, like probably every other goalie, but they were crashing the net. They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net, which were . . .that’s the dangerous part, not just the shots.”

Khudobin, 31, has taken five of a possible six points in the games he's played this season and is off to a solid start with a 2-0-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He looks like he’s going to be a perfectly fine backup, enabling the Bruins to hold Rask to the 55-60 games they’ve forecasted for his peak performance this season.

But Saturday night was a major blow to any hopes that Rask would be pushed competitively by his backup, and that a Khudobin hot streak could spark a slow-starting, and now injured, Rask when he does return.

Instead the Bruins are left to hope they can survive while missing Rask along with a number of other key players, and that the goalie returns sooner than later to a team that can’t survive too many morale-crushing defeats like the choke job against the lowly Sabres.

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