For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Worcester Sharks are headed to the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs after defeating the Providence Bruins (AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins) 5-2 Friday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center (the Sharks actually clinched their playoff berth during the second intermission when the St. John's IceCaps defeated the Springfield Falcons 4-3 in the shootout).
Sharks forward Chris Tierney led the way with three points on a goal and two assists while forward Barclay Goodrow dished out two assists. In addition, forwards Daniil Tarasov, Rylan Schwartz, and defensemen Matt Taormina and Matt Tennyson also scored, while goaltender Troy Grosenick finished with 25 saves in net for his 20th win of the season.
Though the Sharks skated away with the win, it was Providence that struck first when forward David Pastrnak beat Grosenick far side with a shot from the right faceoff circle dot at 5:18 for his 11th goal of the season.
Tierney got the equalizing goal at 13:47 with a wrist shot from the top of the left slot that beat Providence goaltender Malcolm Subban top shelf for his eighth goal of the season. Goodrow and Sharks defenseman Karl Stollery were credited with the assists.
Taormina put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 3:51 of the second period off a wrist shot from the left point just in front of the blue line that got through traffic in front and beat Subban for his 10th goal of the season. Tierney was credited with the lone assist on the goal but may have gotten a piece of the puck while it was on its way towards Subban.
Providence answered back at at 7:14 when forward Rob Flick corralled a pass behind Grosenick's net, skated out onto the top of the crease, waited Grosenick out and fired the puck over a sprawled out Grosenick for his 17th goal of the season.
Inside the final minute of the period, two fights broke out as Tarasov scrapped briefly with Providence forward Justin Florek at 19:06, which was followed by Sharks defenseman Gus Young pounding Providence forward Ben Sexton into the ice three seconds later on the ensuing faceoff.
In the third period, the Sharks outshot Providence 12-5 and scored three times in an eight minute span, starting with Schwartz's goal at 9:06 that saw Schwartz jam the puck past Subban off the rebound of his behind-the-net wrap around shot on the right side for his fifth goal of the season. Schwartz's linemates Travis Oleksuk and Matt Willows were credited with the assists on the goal, which held up as the game winner.
Tarasov extended the lead to 4-2 at 10:20 with his 16th goal of the season off a backhanded shot from in the slot that beat Subban through the wickets. Sharks forward Eriah Hayes, who took the initial shot on goal from the right side, had the lone assist.
Tennyson sealed the Sharks' win with his fourth goal of the season at 17:39 off a one-timer blast from on top of the right faceoff circle that was set up by Tierney and Goodrow.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 29-27 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play... Grosenick is now 20-12-3 with a 2.62 goals-against-average and .905 save percentage... Sharks forward Evan Trupp had a team high four shots on goal... Sharks forward Micheal Haley fought Providence forward Tyler Randell at 2:06 of the second period... The three sets of fighting majors were a season high for the Sharks... This was the 12th and final meeting between the Sharks and Providence this season... The Sharks went 8-4-0 against Providence, are 19-15-3 on the road and 41-27-6 with 88 points overall... The Sharks' three-in-three weekend continues Saturday night (April 18) as they travel to play the first place Manchester Monarchs at 7 p.m./et.
1. Chris Tierney - Sharks (1-2-3)
2. Rylan Schwartz - Sharks (1-0-1, GWG)
3. Karl Stollery - Sharks (01-1)
Tarasov / Tierney / Goodrow
Goldobin / Trupp / Lerg (C)
Haley (A) / Carpenter / Hayes
Schwartz / Oleksuk / Willows
Taormina (A) / Tennyson
Stollery / DeMelo
Young / Fedun