Noticeably absent tonight was the Pirates’ leading point and goal scorer, Alexandre Bolduc. He has been a catalyst for Portland on both sides of the puck.
“Bolduc touches the game in a lot of ways,” said Portland Head Coach Ray Edwards. “We needed other guys to step up tonight and we didn’t get enough of that.”
The first half of the opening period was mostly rough sailing for Portland, but they would strike twice late in the frame to swing the momentum back in their favor.
Providence drew first blood 5:35 into the first period. Jordan Caron shot the puck from a low-percentage angle and watched as it deflected off of a skate and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
David Rundblad notched the equalizer at 15:15 with a big slap shot from the point. The power-play goal was Rundblad’s fourth goal in as many games and was assisted by Andy Miele and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
A fortuitous bounce just 1:30 later gave Portland its only lead of the night. Brendan Shinnimin took the original shot, and some slight contact with Providence goalie Michael Hutchinson led to a vacated net, just long enough for Ethan Werek to collect the puck and stuff it home.
Nearly a quarter of the way through the regular season, the Pirates have done their best work from a goal differential perspective in the second period. Unfortunately, that statistic took a minor blip as Providence scored the only goal of the middle frame.
At 9:04, Torey Krug misfired on a slap shot from the point, which resulted in a “change up” effect from the perspective of Mark Visentin. The puck arrived on Jamie Tardif’s stick at the side of the net and Visentin had no chance to get into proper position.
Portland nearly scored with 30 seconds left in the second period. The puck had slipped through Michael Hutchinson and bobbled around on the goal line before referee Dave Lewis rendered the play dead.
At the 16:25 mark into the third period, minutes after Providence had a goal of its own waived off, the P-Bruins grabbed its second lead of the night. Zach Trotman maneuvered into the slot and sent a hard, low shot past Visentin for his first goal of the season.
Ryan Spooner and Christian Hanson padded the Bruins’ lead with empty net goals in the final minutes.
Despite the loss, Portland continued its upward trend with the man advantage, finishing 1-for-3.
Providence went 1-for-2. The Pirates have been performing much better on home ice with the man advantage, entering tonight with a 21.6% success rate on Maine ice and a 10.4% mark on the road.
Michael Hutchinson turned away 24 shots en route to his first victory of the season. Mark Visentin stopped 29-of-32 shots in the losing effort.
Portland will finish off their stretch of three games in three days on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in Manchester against the Monarchs.
NOTES: Saturday night was Kent Hulst bobblehead night in Portland. Hulst played with the Pirates from the team’s inaugural season in Portland, Maine in 1993 until leaving the team for the Providence Bruins in 2001, where he finished his AHL career. Hulst racked up 561 points (226 goals, 335 assists) in 735 AHL games. In 2002, Hulst was inducted into the Portland Pirates Hall of Fame.