In a wild seesaw game that saw 134 penalty minutes assessed and seven goals scored in the third period, Jon Matsumoto scored the game winning goal with 10.5 seconds remaining to give the Worcester Sharks a 5-4 victory over the Providence Bruins Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Alex Stalock had 32 saves for his 10th win of the season while James Sheppard scored his fourth goal in his last three games as the Sharks leapfrogged the Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division with the win and now trail the Portland Pirates by three points for first place.
After both teams traded scoring chances for most of the first period, things turned nasty at 17:18 when Bruins enforcer Bobby Robins blindsided Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson with a shot to the head that resulted in a huge scrum up. Robins was only assessed a two minute minor for head contact on Tennyson while Sharks defensemen Nick Petrecki and Matt Pelech were assessed a roughing minor and 10 minute misconduct respectively. At the end of the scoreless period, Sharks forward James Livingston dropped the gloves with Bruins forward Christian Hanson in what was both combatants second fight of the season.
Despite having four power play opportunities in the first period, the Sharks didn't capitalize until their fifth power play opportunity when Tennyson ripped a shot from the point that beat Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg at 4:39 of the second period. The goal, which was unassisted, was Tennyson's third of the season and extended his point streak to four games.
Midway through the period at 10:19, Sharks enforcer Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves with Robins, who had just served a two minute minor for roughing, in a marathon battle that saw both combatants land several solid shots. McLaren was assessed 27 penalty minutes as he got two for instigating, five for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for fighting prior to the drop of the puck. Robins was assessed five for fighting and a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With a 5-on-3 power play advantage for the Bruins following the fight, Stalock appeared to have made the save of the year when he robbed Chris Borque of a goal after a cross ice feed from Carter Camper. However, video review overturned the call on the ice and Borque was credited with his third goal of the season.
The Sharks appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead at 18:49 but the officials waived off the goal despite the red light coming on. The no goal call infuriated both the Sharks players and Sharks head coach Roy Sommer, who was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while Sheppard was given a two minute minor for goaltender interference. At the very end of the period, Bruins forward Jamie Tardif ran over Stalock, causing a huge scrum up as no official raised their hand for a goaltender interference penalty. Sharks defensemen Mike Brennan was assessed two minor penalties for roughing and slashing while Tardif was assessed two roughing minor penalties. Through two periods, both teams had combined for 122 penalty minutes.
Just 34-seconds into the third period, the Bruins took their first lead of the game when Borque buried home his second goal of the game off another cross ice feed from Camper. The Bruins lead didn't last long as Sheppard tied the game at 2:15 with his seventh goal of the season off a rebound in front after a shot from the left face-off circle by Livingston knocked down Svedberg.
47-seconds later, the Sharks regained the lead as Bracken Kearns got positioning in front and tipped home a Petrecki blast from the point past Svedberg for his eighth goal of the season. The Bruins tied the game at 6:46, two seconds after the Sharks had killed off a Bruins power play, when forward Craig Cunningham buried home a rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
Tardif gave the Bruins a 4-3 lead 90-seconds later when he tipped home a David Warsofsky shot from the center point past Stalock for a power play goal, his 14th goal of the season. Sharks captain John McCarthy answered back for the Sharks with a power play goal, his fourth goal of the season, at 13:12 off a redirection of a Denny Urban slap pass from the right point.
With the game still tied inside the final minute of the period, the Sharks had the line of Matsumoto, Sheppard and Brodie Reid on the ice. With the puck deep in the Bruins zone, Reid found Matsumoto in front and Matsumoto capped off a great shift by the trio as he buried home a shot just under the crossbar for the game-winning-goal, his fifth goal of the season, at 19:49.
NOTES: Shots were 36 a piece... The Sharks went 2-for-8 on the power play and 8-for-11 on the penalty kill... Of the 134 penalty minutes, the Sharks were assessed 80 while the Bruins were assessed 54... Stalock is now 10-5-3-1 with a 2.66 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage... Tennyson now has five points (2-3-5) during his four-game point streak... Petrecki returned to the Sharks lineup after missing 16 games with a hand injury and was +3 to go along with his assist on the Kearns goal... Tim Kennedy was credited the secondary assists on the the Kearns and McCarthy goals to give him a two point night for the Sharks... Urban, who was signed to a PTO by the Sharks on Dec. 20, wore number 37 in his first career AHL game and registered his first career AHL assist on McCarthy's goal... With the two fights, the Sharks now have 37 through 27 games... Danny Groulx (inj), Taylor Doherty (inj), Sena Acolatse (inj), Matt Irwin (inj), Curt Gogol (inj), Travis Oleksuk (inj) and Jimmy Bonneau (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the fifth of 12 meetings between the teams this season... The Sharks are 4-0-0-1 against the Bruins this season, 10-4-1-1 against the Atlantic Division, 9-5-0-1 on the road and 14-10-1-2 with 31 points overall... The Sharks have now played in nine straight one goal games (5-3-0-1).
1. Chris Borque - Bruins (2-0-2)
2. James Sheppard - Sharks (1-1-2)
3. Jon Matsumoto - Sharks (1-0-1, GWG)