HARTFORD, Conn – Craig Cunningham scored four goals, and Matt Fraser had a hat trick and an assist, to lead the Providence Bruins to an 8-5 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the XL Center.
The game marked the first time in Wolf Pack history that two different opposing players scored hat tricks in the same game. Ryan Spooner also struck for four assists for the Bruins, who were 3/4 on power plays. Darroll Powe had a goal and an assist for Hartford.
“Today it just seemed like the puck was going the other way,” Wolf Pack captain Aaron Johnson said. “It was just one of those nights you learn from and turn the page.”
Both teams capitalized on their first power plays in the game, starting with Cunningham’s first goal only 2:16 in, with Andrew Yogan in the penalty box for hooking. Spooner sent the puck across the slot from the right-wing side, and Cunningham had a big opening for his shot from Wolf Pack starting goaltender Jason Missiaen’s right.
The Wolf Pack tied it exactly 60 seconds later, at 3:16, after Bobby Robins was penalized for hooking Johnson at 2:28. A Danny Kristo pass from the right side found Oscar Lindberg heading hard towards the net, and Lindberg easily banged the puck in behind Bruin netminder Niklas Svedberg (18 saves).
That tie lasted only 46 seconds, as Fraser gave Providence back the lead with his first of the night at 4:02. The Wolf Pack were unable to get the puck out of the defensive zone and Jared Knight set Fraser up between the hash marks, for a shot that beat Missiaen up high.
The Wolf Pack came back quickly again, evening the score at two at 6:44. Danny Syvret poked the puck away from Knight just inside the Bruin blue line, and Powe jumped on it, firing a quick shot past Svedberg from high in the slot.
Providence went back ahead at 10:13, on Fraser’s second of the game. After an icing call against Hartford, Spooner won the draw in the Wolf Pack end and Fraser’s shot trickled between Missiaen and the post to his right.
The Bruins then seemed to put a stranglehold on the game with three second-period goals in a span of 3:43, starting at 7:15.
Cunningham netted his second of the game on a power play at 7:15, set up by Spooner, and then got his hat trick goal just 1:41 later, on another man advantage at 8:56, ripping in a shot from the left-wing circle.
Then, at 10:58, the Bruins got a fluke goal that was credited to Alexander Khokhlachev, with the puck going off of Syvret’s skate in front of the goal and eluding Missiaen.
That was the end of Missiaen’s night, after he surrendered six goals on 22 shots, and Scott Stajcer came on in relief. Down 6-2 at that point, the Wolf Pack would start to get back in the game at 18:18, when Marek Hrivik scored off of a nice pass from Arron Asham.
Hartford then put up a pair of early third-period goals in a span of 14 seconds, to climb quickly back to within one goal.
Shawn O’Donnell got credit for his first career AHL at the one-minute mark of the third, when Tommy Hughes’ shot from the right hit O’Donnell’s leg and deflected into the net. Then, at 1:14, Ryan Bourque, covering the left point, blasted a long shot past Svedberg and the Wolf Pack had all of the momentum.
They were unable to get any closer, however, and Cunningham put home his fourth of the game to give the Bruins some breathing room at 13:51. Again it was Spooner with the setup, feeding out of the left-wing corner to Cunningham in the slot. Fraser then scored an empty-net goal from his own blue line at 18:40, to complete his hat trick and give Providence the three-goal win.