By Brian Ring
Providence, RI, December 2, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Providence Bruins, 4-1, Friday night before 7,352 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Mats Zuccarello scored and added an assist for the Whale, while Jordan Owens and Jared Nightingale both had two assists. Scott Tanski collected his first professional goal in the game for Connecticut.
The win was the third straight for the Whale, who climbed to 29 points and remained in first place in the Northeast Division.
Tanski put the Whale ahead 1-0 at 6:13 of the first period, as he scored the first goal of his AHL career, getting his stick on a Nightingale shot that trickled through the pads of Providence goaltender Anton Khudobin (20 saves). Nightingale and Jordan Owens both assisted on Tanski’s goal, which just had enough momentum to cross the goal line for the Whale advantage.
“The Owens, Tanski, Tommy Grant line had two big goals to start the game for us… we’ll take them from any source,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander.
The Whale extended their lead to 2-0 at 5:02 of the second period, as Grant cut up the slot in the Providence zone before wristing a shot past Khudobin. Owens recorded his second assist of the night on the goal, the third of the season for Grant.
Connecticut escaped the period with their 2-0 lead intact, despite the Bruins being afforded five straight power-plays, including a pair of odd-man opportunities in the second frame. The Whale were outshot, 22-14, through two periods.
The Whale would score again to make it 3-0 on the power-play at 5:23 of the third period, taking advantage of a five-on-three chance. Zuccarello dished the puck from the corner into the slot to Kris Newbury, who tipped the puck past Khudobin in his first game since serving a four-game suspension. Wade Redden also assisted on the goal.
Zach Hamill cut the Whale lead to 3-1 with a shorthanded goal less than a minute later, his shot beating Whale goaltender Chad Johnson (28 saves). The Bruins would not get any closer, however, as the Whale struck back with another five-on-three power-play tally, when Zuccarello scored at 15:46 to ice the game for Connecticut.
The Whale finished the night a perfect seven-for-seven on penalty kills, while also going two-for-five with the man advantage.
“A lot of times your best penalty killer is your goaltender,” said Gernander. “I thought Johnner (Johnson) had a good night tonight.
“Both special teams [had a good night], we had two power-play goals and several kills tonight, fortunately. We don’t want to take so many penalties, though.”
The Whale are back in road action Saturday night in Springfield, as they take on the Falcons at MassMutual Center (7:00). Connecticut returns home to the XL Center on Sunday afternoon, as the Whale hosts the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators (3:00).
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Connecticut Whale 4 at Providence Bruins 1
Friday, December 2, 2011 – Dunkin’ Donuts Center
Connecticut 1 1 2 – 4
Providence 0 0 1 – 1
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Tanski 1 (Nightingale, Owens), 6:13. Penalties-Randell Pro (tripping), 2:47; Grant Ct (tripping), 14:04; Zuccarello Ct (slashing), 18:00; Bickel Ct (cross-checking), 19:37.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Grant 3 (Owens, Nightingale), 5:02. Penalties-Valentenko Ct (interference), 8:48; Audy-Marchessault Ct (interference), 13:17.
3rd Period-3, Connecticut, Newbury 6 (Zuccarello, Redden), 5:23 (PP). 4, Providence, Hamill 7 (Caron, Bodnarchuk), 6:13 (SH). 5, Connecticut, Zuccarello 5 (Audy-Marchessault), 15:46 (PP). Penalties-Deveaux Ct (fighting), 0:51; Miller Pro (fighting), 0:51; Whitfield Pro (tripping), 4:46; Cunningham Pro (holding), 5:05; Bouchard Ct (tripping), 7:10; Parlett Ct (tripping), 13:01; Bodnarchuk Pro (tripping), 14:51; Arniel Pro (high-sticking), 15:11.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 9-5-12-26. Providence 11-11-7-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 2 / 5; Providence 0 / 7.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 7-3-2 (29 shots-28 saves). Providence, Khudobin 7-11-1 (26 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Tim Mayer (19).
Linesmen-Brian MacDonald (72), Bob Paquette (18)