( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Nathan Strauss | Follow him on Twitter @NathanPStrauss

A slow start on Saturday sent Providence to their third straight loss, falling 4-0 to the Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens). The Providence Bruins returned home following their Friday overtime loss, looking to make it two wins from two games at the Dunk.

With Jack Studnicka recalled to Boston, it was a different look Providence team to that which had featured in the first three games–and not just because the Bruins took the ice in their unique Pink in the Rink sweaters in support; of breast cancer awareness! Without Studnicka in the lineup, Chris Wagner moved from wing to center on the top line, while Eduards Tralmaks was recalled from ECHL Maine but did not feature.

The Bruins, who arrived back in the early morning from Utica, looked tired against a fresh Laval side. Despite an early power play for Providence, it was Laval that struck first through Gianni Fairbrother after a sloppy change led to an odd-man rush for the Rocket. WIthout Steen and Studnicka, the Bruins had a hard time exiting their own zone against Laval’s 1-2-2 forecheck.

Laval tacked on their second goal just 12 minutes in after a great backhand feed from Gabriel Borque set up Xavier Ouellet for his first of the season. After Brady Lyle was whistled for a trip with four minutes to go in the first, the Bruins created their best chance of the period shorthanded, but Laval netminder Michael McNiven stonewalled Jesper Frödén to keep Laval on top.

Providence came out firing in the second, with a flurry of chances generated by the top line of Fogarty, Wagner, and Lauko. Tyler Lewington dropped the gloves with Brandon Baddock, bringing the Dunk’s fans to their feet. However, more heroics from McNiven in the net kept the Bruins off the board. Montreal-born goaltender Callum Booth, recalled last week from Maine, was largely untroubled in the second period.

Providence largely controlled the flow of the game, with Jack Ahcan standing out as a creative threat. The Bruins thought they had pulled one back after a pileup in the crease had the goal light lit, but a lengthy review resulted in a call of no goal. After two periods, Laval maintained their 2-0 advantage.

Despite drawing two power plays to start the third, Providence could not quite find their rhythm, and a wasted man advantage resulted in Laurent Dauphin scoring his AHL-leading fourth goal of the season at the 9:21 mark. That third goal siphoned much of the energy out of the remaining ten minutes, with Providence hardly threatening McNiven’s net over the final moments. Laval tacked on the empty-net goal with just over a minute to go, resulting in the final scoreline of 4-0.

Head Coach Ryan Mougenel mentioned fatigue as a factor in the loss but made sure to focus the postgame conversation on the effort of his team, saying, “In this league, everybody’s got their own issues – changing rosters, bus trips, all those things come into play. There’s no feeling sorry for anybody in this league, and I think our guys got a good dose of that tonight.”

Mougenel also hinted that there might be some shakeups in the lineup tomorrow, noting, “as a staff, we have to take ownership…and figure out who gets the privilege of playing tomorrow.” While the Bruins have now dropped three straight games, one was in a shootout, and two were in overtime, making this defeat the first time this season that Providence has failed to pick up at least a point.

Providence will play their third game in three days Sunday afternoon at 3:05 against the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues), who are led by former Hobey Baker winner Scott Perunovich (one goal, five assists in four AHL games). Kyle Keyser, who excelled on Friday night against Utica, will likely start in net for Providence. Look for Tralmaks, who scored a hat-trick on Friday for Maine, to make a real difference in Sunday’s game. Ahcan, who featured in three games at the NHL level last year, is another player to watch out for.