( Photo Credit: Tessa McAndrews / Providence Bruins )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter / X @BlackAndGold277

Last night, the Providence Bruins took their second-round Calder Cup Playoff action on the road in Hartford, Connecticut, dropping game three 3-2 in overtime to the Hartford Wolf Pack. With the Wolf Pack’s home victory, the top minor-pro affiliate of the New York Rangers pulls away in the best-of-five series 2-1 after splitting the first two contests at the Amica Mutal Pavillion in Providence, Rhode Island.

Boston Bruins forward prospect Fabian Lysell made his 2024 postseason debut last night after being on the shelf for the last six and a half weeks due to an upper-body injury. The former first-round selection in 2021 did okay in his return but showed signs of rust, especially with his puck control in tight quarters along the boards and around the net. The 21-year-old Sweden native failed to register a shot on goal in his debut vs. the Wolf Pack last night, which has me speculating that he might not be 100% healthy.

Providence went into the first road game of this series on five days rest after Bruins goaltender Brandon Bussi was the game’s star, stopping all 34 of the Wolf Pack shots and beating Hartford 6-0. That shutout effort from the undrafted netminder was his first “no-no” of his postseason career, and he was fantastic at helping the top minor-pro affiliate even the series at one. Last night, Bussi got off to a rough start but got better as time went on after a shaky opening frame.

Bruins forward Marc McLaughlin scored the game’s first goal with 14:37 to go in the opening period, sniping his first of the 2024 postseason in the upper left of the goal. McLaughlin’s first goal was assisted by forward John Farinacci and forward Jimmy Lambert, who notched his third point in the last three games.

Close to two minutes after the McLaughlin goal, former Boston Bruins forward Riley Nash tied the game for the Wolf Pack, scoring his third goal of the series. Things would get worse for the visiting Providence team, as Hartford got a serious momentum advantage in the first period to get a 2-1 go-ahead goal from Pack forward Brennan Othmann, assisted by forward Alex Belize and veteran Nash, who continues to menace the Bruins with his fourth point of this series.

Providence would tie the game at two apiece when veteran forward Jayson Megna scored his second goal of these Calder Cup Playoffs. The assists on Megna’s goal went to defenseman Ian Mitchell and forward Georgii Merkulov, who notched his third point in the last three postseason games. Mitchell deserves high praise as the Bruins’ top defenseman in this round vs. Hartford with two goals and two assists. To end the first period, the visiting Bruins dominated in shots on goal, ending the first 20 minutes leading the game 20-10. Megna’s goal was initially credited to defenseman Ian Mitchell but later changed with Mitchel getting an assist as Jayson had the quick hands out front tipping the puck past Pack goaltender Dylan Garand.

The second and third periods were locked down by both teams in a defensive struggle and not giving up an inch of ice as the game continued. The goaltending in the last 40 minutes of last night’s game was must-see hockey, to be honest, and if you missed it, go back and watch it on demand via an AHLTV streaming package. Providence starter Bussi and Hartford starter Dylan Garand put on a show at the XL Center in front of 4,282 fans in attendance in the last two periods, setting up an ever-thrilling playoff overtime. In the previous two periods, Providence was credited with seven shots apiece leading up to the sudden death period.

In the 20-minute overtime period, the Hartford Wolf Pack needed close to five minutes to close the game out on home ice. Riley Nash capped off an impressive postseason outing, posting his third point of the game. The Pack fans went home with a 3-2 victory and a 2-1 series lead, with a potential Providence elimination game coming up at the end of this week.

Overall, this was an entertaining game three at the XL last night, and it was good to see how this Bruins team responded after Hartford turned up the heat in the first period. Providence used the opening period as a five-day rust shaker to clamp down the home Packs’ pressure to win on home ice. It’s no secret that these two Atlantic Division rivals can’t stand each other with the physical aspect of this Calder Cup Playoff series.

The B’s have been slightly hamstrung when looking at the Providence roster lately. Forward Anthony Richard, who played in games one and two, was unavailable for game three after five days of rest in between games, which tells me he’s banged up pretty well. Veteran forward Patrick Brown, who’s been producing points consistently for Providence, was recalled to Boston For their Stanley Cup Playoff game one, covering for Jesper Boqvist, who was out due to an illness. According to the NHL Bruins’s official press release, Brown was assigned back to Providence today. Defenseman Alec Regula, who led the AHL in plus/minus, has yet to participate in the 2024 postseason due to a lower-body injury to close the regular season. Forward Joey Abate and his pain-in-the-ass-to-play-against mentality are sorely missed on the ice, as he has yet to see playoff action in 2024.

Game four of this best-of-five second-round series gets underway tomorrow night with another battle on Hartford’s home ice at the XL Center. Providence looks to use this day of rest to prepare for a long battle on Friday night in an effort to tie the series at two apiece, setting up a thrilling game five at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island.