( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins/Flikr )

By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26

Following the Providence Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Utica Commits last weekend, Providence improves to 28-9-7-2 as they came back from two goals down to win 4-3 in a shootout over the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. Providence goaltender Kyle Keyser made 30 saves and earned his seventh victory in the 2022-23 campaign, while Georgii Merkulov recorded two goals and an assist to extend his point streak to four games.

Only two minutes into the first frame, Providence nearly took an early lead after Jack Ahcan hit the post with a blistering slapshot from the left circle. Following the Ahcan chance, Providence sustained significant pressure in the offensive zone. With five minutes gone in the first period, Providence got another golden opportunity to take the early lead. Chris Wagner collected a rebound in front of the goal after Providence captain Josiah Didier ripped a shot from the right point. However, Penguins’ goaltender Taylor Gauthier made a sprawling reactionary save, diving left to right. 

On the other end of the ice, with over half the first period in the books, Penguins forward Jonathan Gruden was sprung on a semi-breakaway. The Wilkes Barre/Scranton forward managed a shot from the left circle and tried to go far side, but Keyser was square to the shot and made a pad save. Despite the early chances from the Bruins, the game would remain scoreless heading into the second period.

Early in the second, Providence drew first blood with Fabian Lysell’s tenth goal of the year. Lysell received a loose puck in the high slot and whipped a turnaround shot on goal that squeezed through the five-hole of Penguins goaltender Gauthier. Eight minutes into the middle frame, things started to get ugly for Providence. 

The Penguins evened the score on the power play as forward Tyler Sikura took a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Keyser over the glove hand. The Penguins started picking the pace up after their tying goal and would eventually take a two-goal lead with five minutes remaining in the second. Fortunately, Providence would strike back moments later with Georgii Merkulov’s 12th of the season off a beautiful stretch pass from veteran defenseman Anton Stralman in the defensive zone. Merkulov went five-hole on Gauthier and cut the lead to one before both teams went down the tunnel in preparation for the third period.

Five minutes into the final stanza, Justin Brazeau had a couple of great opportunities for Providence to tie the game. On the first chance, Brazeau was sprung on a breakaway and went to the backhand, but Gauthier got a piece of it with his glove. On his next shift, three minutes later, he gathered the puck in the offensive zone below the goal line and drove it to the net. Brazeau went to his forehand and tried to slide the puck five-hole, but Gauthier made another sprawling save with the left pad.

With two minutes remaining in regulation, Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel pulled Kyle Keyser for the extra attacker. With 1:33 remaining in the third, Merkulov hammered a one-timer from the right circle for his second of the night to tie the game at three apiece. After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout to decide the winner. The shootout went seven rounds before Fabian Lysell and Mike Reilly scored on beautiful moves en route to Providence’s 4-3 victory. While it wasn’t an easy game for Providence, they showed resilience by battling back late in the third period to tie the game.

Head coach Ryan Mougenel was impressed by his team’s response after going down two goals in the second period. “Kudos to the guys, you know they stuck with it. It’s not easy when you give up three quick ones like that, and I think the guys did a real good job of responding the right way.”

The Providence Bruins are back in action tomorrow as they travel out to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in the second half of their back-to-back against the Penguins.