WIDEMAN, DRIEDGER LEAD T-BIRDS TO CONVINCING WIN IN PROVIDENCEFeb 17, 2019
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-22-6-4) exploded for three power play strikes in a 5-1 triumph over the Providence Bruins (27-19-6-1) on Sunday afternoon inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Even though they would only manage six total shots in the first period, Springfield got off to a great start, even while shorthanded in the opening minutes. At the 5:26 mark, Anthony Greco picked up his third shorthanded tally of 2018-19 when he roared up the right wing side and slapped it past Zane McIntyre’s right shoulder.
McIntyre had entered play having won each of his last 12 starts, but luck was not on the Providence goaltender’s side in the first period. After Springfield killed off a second Providence power play, Chris Wideman fired a stretch feed up the middle of the ice from his own zone. This puck had its own path in mind, as it deflected off a body in center ice, then skipped high over McIntyre’s shoulder for Wideman’s improbable first goal as a Thunderbird. That made it a 2-0 game at the 15:22 mark.
Chris Driedger got the start in net for the Thunderbirds, and he answered the bell all 10 times in the first period. His first save may have been the best of the bunch, as he stonewalled Jordan Szwarz on a breakaway in the game’s opening moments.
The physically charged contest continued into the second with Bobby Farnham and Anton Blidh each whistled for post-whistle roughing minors. Those became noteworthy when Connor Clifton took his own penalty to put the Bruins into a 4-on-3 disadvantage. Springfield’s league-leading power play dissected Providence’s top-ranked penalty kill, and Harry Zolnierczyk extended the Springfield lead to 3-0 at 13:58 with a one-time blast from the right wing side. Tomas Jurco and Wideman picked up the power play helpers.
Driedger continued to man the fort in the Thunderbirds crease, as he carried his blank sheet into the third period by making 18 saves in the first 40 minutes.
Providence clawed their way back within two when Szwarz deflected an Urho Vaakanainen shot through Driedger at the 48-second mark to make it a 3-1 game. The Bruins continued a strong push into the midpoint of the third period, but could not solve Driedger a second time.
Springfield blew the game open later in the third when the Bruins lost their discipline on penalties to Clifton and Szwarz simultaneously. With the 5-on-3 advantage, Wideman uncorked his second goal of the game with a slap shot cannon to make it 4-1 at 13:28.
Following the goal, Blidh got whistled for 12 minutes in penalties, meaning the Springfield 5-on-3 would continue. Just over a minute later, Jacob MacDonald completed Springfield’s three-goal power play night with a one-time blast through McIntyre from the right circle at 14:38.
McIntyre’s 12-game win streak came to an end after Springfield dented the Providence goalie for five goals on 26 shots. Driedger, meanwhile, picked up win number seven of his season with a marvelous 26-save effort for Springfield. The victory snapped Springfield’s six-game losing slide.
The Thunderbirds are next in action on Friday in Hartford for another installment of the I-91 rivalry against the Wolf Pack.
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