Ryan Spooner gives and Ryan Spooner takes away.
Both Spooner’s Providence Bruins and the opposing St. John’s IceCaps experienced that pattern in succession Saturday night. An equalizer scored while Spooner was serving a penalty effectively spilled a point to the divisional rival as the Bruins settled for a 2-2 tie in regulation rather than take the whole wishbone via Spooner’s go-ahead strike earlier in the third period.
But Spooner, whose regulation goal came a mere 37 seconds after the Caps had drawn a 1-1 knot, tallied the lone shootout conversion for the victory at Mile One Centre. His backhand roofer in the bottom of the second shootout inning was all the support netminder Niklas Svedberg needed in pursuit of the bonus point.
IceCaps winger Jason Jaffray, who had drawn the 2-2 knot with 3:25 to spare in regulation, constituted his club’s last chance in the top of the fifth. Svedberg did not need to make a move as Jaffray fired one high and wide.
Spooner did not have a single shot on goal through Saturday’s first two periods, though his peers had chalked up 29 up to that point. But after Zach Redmond slugged home an equalizer at the 58-second mark of the closing frame, Spooner retorted by burying the Bruins’ first bid of the stanza on a breakaway.
On the other side of his costly penalty and on his second and final registered shot within the 65 minutes of regular running-clock hockey action, Spooner was later denied in the dying seconds of overtime. But he buried his second chance to redeem himself and his second shootout strike on three total tries this season.
Until the P-Bruins drew first blood on the cusp of the second period buzzer and each strike force began to thaw out, this was a bona fide goaltender’s duel with ample attempts, but few dents. As such, the core story revolved around the shooting gallery and the fitting, decisive one-on-one lightning round that followed.
Saturday participants other than Spooner yielded these key stats.
Shots on goal within the first 40 minutes by rookie defenseman Zach Trotman, which readily amounted to a new single-game season high. Trotman and Jordan Caron each had a team-best two shots apiece in each of Saturday’s first two periods.
By night’s end, Caron had matched his season high with a team-leading five stabs at the opposing cage.
Saves by Svedberg on 10 total shootout bids in his budding North American career. Svedberg has now won each of two AHL shootouts and improved his record to 7-3-0.
Assists by Chris Bourque on the season after his two helpers gave him his second multipoint outing of the year.
The first P-Bruin to hit double digits in either the goal or assist column and now with five points in his last four outings, Bourque appears to be cracking out of his chrysalis and replenishing his AHL-leading form from 2011-12.
Consecutive failures by Providence to convert a power play, dating back to the latter half of last Saturday’s excursion to Portland. Their last two outings constitute their first pair of back-to-back scoreless nights on special teams since opening weekend.
To their credit, though, the offensively-challenged P-Bruins have still mustered four points out of their last three games with only two goals scored in each outing.
Shots on IceCaps goaltender Eddie Pasquale in the second period, the most in a single stanza by the P-Bruins this season apart from the 18 they issued in the first period last Friday versus Manchester.
The last of those shots, with five seconds until intermission trickled home on an ice-kissing icebreaker courtesy of Alden Hirschfeld on a fleeting counterattack. Hirschfeld and Kyle MacKinnon each pelted Pasquale three times during the second stanza.
Shots against Pasquale over the three full-length periods, which matched the St. John’s goaltender’s 60-minute workload from when these teams previously met Nov. 4. The jutting difference was the jump in Pasquale’s skating mates, who this time solved Svedberg on two occasions and traded several protracted swarms and fleeting, air hockey-paced rushes and counter-rushes with their visitors.
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