Worcester Sharks captain Bryan Lerg converted a penalty shot at 6:14 of overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 win over the Providence Bruins (AHL Affiliate of the Boston Bruins) Saturday night at the DCU Center.
Lerg was awarded the penalty shot as the result of a Providence player covering the puck with his hand inside the goal crease after Lerg reached out to deflect defenseman Taylor Fedun's snap shot from inside the right circle on the Sharks' power play opportunity.
"I heard him call the penalty shot right away," said Lerg in a post game interview with Bill Ballou of Telegram.com. "I was smothered in the crease, and I thought the puck was in, but one of their guys pulled it out of the net with his hand."
On the penalty shot attempt, Lerg started from on top of his own goal crease, corralled the puck at center ice, skated in fast, came to a near stop on top of the circles, stick handled the puck into the slot, showed a left shoulder fake and lifted a backhanded shot from on top of the crease up and over Providence goaltender Jeremy Smith for the game winning goal, which was the first winning penalty shot in overtime in 20 seasons of AHL hockey in Worcester.
"I change it up," said Lerg, who revealed to Ballou he's consulted with goalies about the best way to approach for a shooter. "If you go in slow, it confuses the goalie, gets him deep in his net."
Thanks to Lerg's overtime heroics, the Sharks, who have won all six meetings against Providence this season, have now won three games in a row and are only two points out of the last playoff spot in the AHL Eastern Conference.
Though the Sharks sent most in attendance home happy, the game didn't start out to the Sharks' liking as Providence took a 1-0 lead just 1:41 into the game off forward Colin Stewart's first goal of the season via a quick shot from the left half board that deflected in off Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty.
Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo tied the game at 6:10 with a wicked slap shot from the center point off a faceoff win inside the Providence zone for a power play goal, his third goal of the season. Sharks forward Willie Coetzee had the lone assist on the goal, which came two seconds into the Sharks' power play opportunity.
Providence regained its one goal lead at 7:57 when forward Brian Ferlin beat Sharks goaltender Troy Grosenick with a dribbler of a shot from the right circle faceoff dot for his sixth goal of the season.
Coetzee tied the game at 17:17 when he got a piece of linemate Danill Tarasov's snap shot from deep inside the left faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the season. However, Providence regained the lead 27-seconds later off a breakaway goal by forward Alexander Khokhlachev, his eighth goal of the season, which was generated by an own zone turnover on top of the faceoff circles by Sharks defenseman Matt Taormina.
After a scoreless second period, Tarasov tied the game at 3:58 of the third period when he buried home a one-timer from deep inside the left faceoff circle for his eighth goal of the season. Sharks forward Chris Tierney, who made the pass from behind the Providence net to Tarasov, and Coetzee picked up the assists on the goal.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 37-29 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 2-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill... Grosenick made 26 saves for his 12th win and is now 12-6-3 with a 2.83 goals-against-average and .899 save percentage... Lerg's penalty shot goal in overtime was the first overtime penalty shot goal in the AHL since Apr 10, 2012 when Doug Janik scored for the Grand Rapid Griffins... Coetzee had a game high six shots on goal and has registered seven points (2-5-7) in his last two games... Tierney extended his point streak to four games (3-3-6)... This was the sixth of 12 meetings between the Sharks and Providence... The Sharks are 6-0-0 against Providence, 10-6-3 at the DCU Center and 16-14-5 with 37 points overall... The Sharks are back in action Jan. 13 as they host the Manchester Monarchs at 7pm/et.
1. Bryan Lerg - Sharks (1-0-1, Overtime penalty shot game winning goal)
2. Daniil Tarasov - Sharks (1-1-2)
3. Willie Coetzee - Sharks (1-2-3)
Tarasov / Tierney / Coetzee
Hanson / Oleksuk / Carpenter
Lerg (C) / Trupp / Langlois
Bonneau / Brace / Burish
Taormina (A) / Doherty
Abeltshauser / DeMelo (A)
Young / Fedun