By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512
The Providence Bruins faced off against the Utica Comets on Saturday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Bruins were looking to extend their five-game winning streak, while Utica aimed to bounce back from a shootout loss to Bridgeport on Friday. Providence entered the game ranked first in the Atlantic Division with a 15-7-1-2 record.
Cehlarik – Studnicka – Fitzgerald
Vaakanainen – Didier
Bailey – Camper – Lind
Brisebois – Rafferty
Here we go! pic.twitter.com/kezjvVpmfs— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 7, 2019
The game started slow, with neither team able to capitalize on any scoring chances. Providence out-shot Utica 13-3 through the first 14 minutes, but both goalies looked sharp and the game remained scoreless. Bruins defenseman Cooper Zech looked strong coming off of a 4-point night against Binghamton on Friday.
With around 5:50 left in the first period, Providence’s Jakub Lauko collapsed to the ice after skating in to hit a Utica player in front of the benches. The medical staff was quick to attend to him, but it was a scary moment as Lauko remained down on the ice for several minutes. He was eventually taken off on a stretcher. The 19-year-old gave a thumbs-up to the crowd before he left the ice.
Scary moment here at The Dunk as Jakub Lauko is stretchered off after a collision near the bench. The rookie was able to give a thumbs-up as he was taken off the ice.— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 8, 2019
Utica was given a power play with 3:46 remaining in the period but was unable to convert. The game remained tied at zero heading into the first intermission.
Just over a minute into the second period, Paul Carey scored his 12th goal of the season. Robert Lantosi surprised Utica’s goalie Richard Bachman with a strong shot, and Carey was able to convert on the rebound.
The captain with his team-leading 12th tally of the season! pic.twitter.com/bBExesdNIT— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 8, 2019
The Bruins were given a power play 8:59 into the period when Olli Juolevi was called for interference. Providence was unable to score, but Zech drew another penalty after a nice play in the offensive zone. The Bruins went scoreless on their second man-advantage of the night.
Robert Lantosi was whistled for tripping with 3:48 remaining. Just seconds into the power play, Utica’s Justin Bailey tipped the puck past Vladar and tied the game.
Too easy. Boucher finds @JustinBailey95 to tie the game at one!— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 8, 2019
That’s four straight games with a goal for Bailey and 11 straight games with a power play goal for the Comets!#UTIvsPRO pic.twitter.com/Sxo70jM0mW
At the end of the second period, Providence was out-shooting Utica 35-13.
Providence got its third power play of the night as Zech was tripped up at Utica’s blue line. The Bruins couldn’t convert, going 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
With 12:42 left, Brendan Gaunce beat Bachman with a terrific shot to put Providence up 2-1. Carey forced a turnover in the neutral zone, and Lantosi was able to send the puck to Gaunce on the rush. It was Gaunce’s seventh goal in 16 games.
Gaunce for the lead! 🎯 pic.twitter.com/8SMfwc7YqM— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 8, 2019
Though the Bruins played a strong defensive game throughout the night, a turnover in their own zone led to Utica tying the game at 2 with 2:49 left in the period. Then, at 18:55, Oskar Steen was sent to the box for goaltender interference.
Providence’s penalty kill kept the game tied. With just 7 seconds to go, Utica committed a hooking penalty. The game headed to overtime.
Despite multiple scoring chances and a short power play for Providence, overtime was scoreless. The game went to a shootout with the Bruins having out-shot the Comets 43-21.
Lantosi scored to open the shootout. Francis Perron was unable to beat Vladar.
Round one:— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 8, 2019
Robert Lantosi ✅
Francis Perron ❌
In the second round, Carey and Sven Baertschi both failed to convert.
Round two:— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 8, 2019
Paul Carey ❌
Sven Baertschi ❌
The Bruins needed a goal or a save to get the win. Brendan Gaunce came close to ending it, but his shot hit the post. Vladar made a flashy glove save on Reid Boucher to secure a Bruins victory.
Vladar got his second win in two games since he returned from injury.
“It was a long six weeks for me,” Vladar said after the game. “I feel relieved that I can play right now and that I can do my best. I appreciate it more because as I said, those six weeks were so long. I’m so happy that I got four out of four [points] so far.”
The Bruins have six straight wins and have lost just two games in regulation in their last 11. They host the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon.