In their first action in five days, the Providence Bruins returned the ‘favor’, spoiling the Manchester Monarchs’ home opener at the Verizon Wireless Arena and earning their first victory, 4-3. In front of a reported crowd of just over seven thousand, Jordan Caron’s hat-trick paced the Baby B’s offense but they also received contributions from Ryan Spooner, Niklas Svedberg got the ‘W’ in his first start of the season.
Despite getting outshot 10 to 7, Providence dominated the first period of play, on the strength of their first two powerplay goals of the season – and another at even-strength off the stick of Jordan Caron. Both of the P-Bruins’ scoring lines were clicking and only during shorthanded time did Manchester sustain any real pressure.
The first goal came off the stick of Spooner, who stuffed a loose puck past Monarchs’ tender Martin Jones to open the evening. It was Spooner’s first of the season and the B’s first powerplay marker of the year. Jamie Tardif earned a helper. But the team wasn’t done.
“I got a great pass from Jamie Tardif,” Spooner recollected in the postgame. “It was a bit of an easy goal – I’m grateful for that. It was a good forecheck to cause the turnover so I’ll definitely take it.”
After Providence killed a penalty, Caron and Christian Hanson broke in two-on-one with Jordan sliding down the off-wing. Caron fired a nasty snapshot high stick-side to beat Jones and give the B’s a two-goal edge.
Said Caron: “I was on the ice for a while for the PK… there was a good bounce – I think [Matt Bartkowski] made a good play, chipping it up the wall… I was looking to pass it, but their D just played the pass pretty good so I just took a good shot and it went in.”
With just minutes to go in the frame, Caron got his second of the stanza, deflecting a David Warsofsky slapper past Jones to push the difference to three. Chris Bourque added an assist on the Bruins’ almost-shocking second powerplay goal of the game.
The second period saw a reversal of their fortunes as the Monarchs potted a trio of goals to close-in on Providence. Outshooting the P-Bruins 13 to 6 in the frame, Manchester received goals from Richard Clune, Rob Czarnik and Tyler Toffoli on the powerplay.
But the P-Bruins remained on-top thanks to Jordan Caron’s third of the season (and the evening). Carter Camper took a Manchester turnover in the neutral-ice and brought the puck into the attacking zone. His shot was stopped by Jones but Caron swept the rebound home past his outstretched pad.
Caron’s presence in the game’s ‘dirty areas’ was notable throughout – and directly responsible for two of his three markers. “I think that’s always been a part of my game,” Caron commented.
In the final frame, Providence’s defensive zone was home to nearly all of the action. Again, the Monarchs significantly outshot their competition and brought a massive physical presence while the visitors struggled to maintain their advantage. In the end, Manchester couldn’t beat Svedberg a fourth time and Slava Voynov’s slapper with twenty seconds to go clanged off the iron, and the Bruins held-on for the win.
It was a banner night for Caron as he earned the hatty to go with three periods of impressive three-zone play. “It’s always fun to contribute offensively,” he said after the game, “… it couldn’t happen at a better moment… but I think the two points we got tonight – our first of the season – is even more important.”
The P-Bruins’ powerplay finally clicked after two games of abysmal performance and nonexistent production. Both units looked solid with the man-advantage and both managed to get on the board. “We worked really hard on it this week,” Caron said. “I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”
Svedberg – The rookie stopped 30 of 33 shots-against in his first AHL action, only victimized by a couple of juicy, un-cleared rebounds and a lucky bounce of a goal. He stayed very conservative in the crease, hugging the goal-line and displayed some impressive reflexes and puck-tracking. He was my third star of the evening (after Clune and Caron).
New Defensive Pairings – The Providence Bruins swapped Colby Cohen for Zach Trotman, who earned his first game of the season. As a result the Baby B’s defensive pairings needed fixing – and Bruce Cassidy put Torey Krug with Garnet Exelby and Trotman with David Warsofsky. Despite dual left-handed shooters, the Exelby-Krug pairing looked solid – and Warsofsky continued his impressive stretch.
Justin Florek – Got the start in the injured Jared Knight’s stead. Didn’t receive heavy minutes, but loved his motor and compete-level throughout the evening.
Tardif and Spooner – Continued their season-opening point-streaks, extending them to three games.
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @HockeyMand