PROVIDENCE, RI – The Worcester Sharks (34-30-3-2, 73pts) suffered a shootout loss to the Providence Bruins (37-23-2-7, 83pts) with a final score of 3-2 before 8,320 fans Friday evening at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in the last road game of the season. With the shootout loss and seven games left the Sharks picked up a point and are now six points away from the last playoff position in the Eastern Conference, currently held by the eighth-placed Norfolk Admirals.
The Sharks took control of the game with the only goal of the first period after a left point drive by Konrad Abeltshauser (6th) before doubling up on their goals in the second with a power play mark by Eriah Hayes (10th). Providence then returned the goal deficit to one with a rebounded score by Alexander Khokhlachev (20th) to close out the second. Late in the third with an extra attacker, Craig Cunningham (25th) tallied the equalizer for Providence and forced a scoreless overtime, as the game was decided in the shootout. Carpenter and Hayes scored for the Sharks, but the Bruins edged Worcester in the end with shootout goals by Khokhlachev, Griffith and Johnson.
The Sharks played well on both the offensive and defensive ends in the first 20 minutes of play as they took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame. Konrad Abeltshauser (6th) started the scoring for the tilt at 6:42, after Oleksuk won a face-off in the left circle of Worcester’s offensive end. After the face-off win Matt Tennyson possessed the puck at the right point before sending it across the blue line to the left where Abeltshauser sniped a slapper through the defense and Niklas Svedberg. The Bruins outshot the Sharks 12-8 in the period, but Sateri remained solid between the pipes to keep Providence off the board.
Both the Sharks and the Bruins took away a goal from the middle period as the Sharks held onto their one-goal lead after 40 minutes. Worcester scored first, doubling up their goals with a power play tally at 8:55. Assisted by Oleksuk and Tennyson, Eriah Hayes (10th) was found alone for a breakaway through the center of the slot where he fake out Svedberg and slide the puck between his pads. Then at 15:37, the Bruins were finally able to break through Sateri after a shot from the point by a Bruins defensemen caused a rebound in front that was cleaned up by Alexander Khokhlachev (20th). Providence again controlled the shooting, holding an 11-8 edge over Worcester.
After almost a full period of scoreless hockey, the Bruins found the back of the net for a late tying goal with just 1:09 on the clock and an extra skater on the ice to force overtime. The tying mark came off a wrister by Craig Cunningham (25th) from the left stick-side circle after the Bruins cycled the puck in their offensive end to find the open player with a sixth skater. Shots for the final period of regulation were 9-8 with the Bruins holding the advantage over the Sharks.
After a scoreless, yet action packed overtime with a flurry of scoring chances for each side, the game was set to be decided in a shootout. Following five rounds of shooters, the Bruins edged the Sharks 3-2 in both the shootout and the contest. Sateri stopped Providence’s first two shooters while Carpenter and Hayes scored for the Sharks and Khokhlachev, Griffith and Johnson netted shootout goals for Providence.
The Sharks’ overall record shifts to 34-30-3-2, 73pts and 17-17-3-1, 38pts on the road.
Notes: Three Stars: 3rd star: Harri Sateri (32 saves) 2nd star: Craig Cunningham (1-0-1) 1st star: Nick Johnson (Shootout Winner) …Final shots were 25-35 in favor of Providence…Niklas Svedberg made 23 saves on 25 shots for Providence…Harri Sateri made 32 saves on 34 shots for Worcester….Worcester went 1-4 on the power play while Providence went 0-5…Sena Acolatse (inj), Brodie Reid, John McCarthy (inj.), Daniil Tarasov (inj.), Marek Viedensky (inj), Adam Comrie and Nick Jones did not dress for Worcester…Rob Davison returned back into the lineup after a three-game AHL suspension…Oleksuk is on a five game point streak (3-4-7) and is 7-11-18 in the last 17 games…Worcester fell to 10-2 in the shootout this season with both losses coming from Niklas Svedberg… the Sharks close out the season with seven consecutive home games at the DCU Center.