Luke Toporowski barrels to the net against Lehigh Valley on Nov. 18. The 21-year-old left winger scored a hat trick on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)
There were some bumps along the way, but the Providence Bruins came home from their Thanksgiving week trip to upstate New York with five out of six points.
For starters, the P-Bruins let leads of 2-0 and 3-1 get away against the Rochester Americans on Wednesday before losing in overtime, 4-3.
Bouncing back from that deflating outcome, Providence showed lots of guts in Syracuse on Friday, scoring three times in the third period for a come-from-behind win over the Crunch, 5-3.
On Saturday, the P-Bruins led 2-0, 4-1 and 5-3, but Syracuse rallied to tie the game with an extra-attacker goal with 45 seconds left. Chris Wagner scored a wraparound goal in overtime for a 6-5 victory and a happy bus ride back to Rhode Island.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
— As of Sunday night, Providence remained in first place in the Atlantic Division and first overall in the AHL. They’ve lost only twice in regulation time and have earned 29 of 38 points.
— It was a great weekend for Luke Toporowski. On Friday, he set up Sammy Asselin for goal with a slick pass on the power play, then scored the GWG in the third period. He had a hat trick on Saturday. His second score that night on an individual rush could be the Providence goal of the year to this point. With nine goals in 18 games, he’s a strong candidate for AHL Rookie of the Year.
— On numerous occasions this season Chris Wagner has delivered a big play when it’s needed most. He did it again in overtime on Saturday, scoring his seventh goal of the season. His reaction after the goal is clear proof that his competitive fire is burning as hot as ever.
— After going without a goal in his first 65 games as a pro, Nick Wolff buried his first in Rochester.
— Mike Callahan faked a shot to open a lane to the net, then fired a wrister for his first goal of the season on Friday in Syracuse. Later on in the game he made a smart play at the line that led to a goal by Justin Brazeau.
— Justin Brazeau had a good week with three goals and an assist in the three games. Oskar Steen had an assist on Friday and three more on Saturday. Sammy Asselin had 2-3-5 in the three games. His wrister for a goal in Rochester was an absolute sizzler.
— Keith Kinkaid shut the door in the second half of the game on Friday and finished with 38 saves in the win.
— Joona Koppanen made an unselfish play to get the puck to Justin Brazeau for an empty-netter on Friday. Koppanen, who is very good on the penalty kill, might be Providence’s most underrated forward.
— They are 6-0-1-0 in one-goal games.
— Providence had 21 shots in the first period on Friday. That’s the most by any AHL team in the first period this season.
— Eleven Providence players recorded points on Friday.
— When Johnny Beecher was victimized by a tough hit from Shawn Element on Friday, Dan Renouf stepped in and fought Element.
— They got a great break on Saturday when the referees wiped out a Syracuse goal because of goalie interference. “That’s just an outrageous call against the Crunch,’’ said the hometeam’s play by play guy and he wasn’t wrong.
— As of Sunday, the P-Bruins had given up 677 shots, the most in the AHL. They were allowing an average of 32.74 per game. In four of their last seven games they’ve allowed more than 40 shots.
— It sure looked like Syracuse’s Darren Raddysh slew-footed Sammy Asselin on Saturday, but the refs called him for roughing. Former Bruin Gemel Smith embellished the crap out of a Luke Toporowski high stick in the same game and, of course, drew the call.
— The power play went 1 for 15 in the three games. It’s now 29th in the league at 15.3 percent.
— The P-Bruins had good chances in OT in Rochester – including a glittering opportunity for Fabian Lysell — but couldn’t finish.
— Providence was whistled for 13 minor penalties on Saturday night.
— Talk about buzzard’s luck. On Wednesday in Rochester, ex-Bruin Anders Bjork was a ghost all night until his shot bounced off P-Bruins defender Kai Wissman and into the net to tie the game. Then, with the clock running down in overtime, Ethan Prow lofted a Hail Mary pass that somehow came down on the stick of Linus Weissbach, who skated in alone and buried the winner with six ticks left on the clock.
— Injured: Nick Wolff, Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe