The Providence Bruins turned in a sharp performance in beating Bridgeport, 4-1, at Marlboro on Thursday.
They grabbed the lead just 68 seconds in and didn’t look back. Oskar Steen scored twice and Robert Lantosi and Karson Kuhlman added single goals. Jeremy Swayman made 25 saves.
With a 7-2 record and a .778 points percentage, Providence is running away from Hartford and Bridgeport in the North Division.
Here are three quick hits:
Coach Jay Leach was impressed by the line of Anton Blidh, Steen and Paul Carey, which combined on some nifty plays.
“They won pucks and got it inside, protected it well and were able to attack the net. Very, very tenacious on the puck would be what I’d call that line’s game tonight,’’ he said.
After assisting on two goals in Hartford on Monday, Steen potted an early goal after a strong forecheck by Blidh, then scored from a sharp angle in the second period after a pretty setup by Blidh.
“He’s been going all season, it’s been consistent, game in and game out,’’ Leach said of Steen. “His skating game is certainly there. He’s playing in all situations, starting to really learn the faceoff circle. He’s been a consistent positive performer really throughout the season.’’
Leach had a lot of positive things to say about Blidh.
“Coaches aren’t supposed to have favorites, but it’s hard for me not to have a favorite in that guy. He’s consistently hard. Always skating. Always on the puck. Always in front of the net and then obviously a terrific penalty killer.
“Has added an offensive part to his game where he’s able to set guys up like you saw on Steener’s second goal. It was a beautiful play by Blider from behind the net.
“He’s become a leader for us. He’s matured. I’ve known him for five years now and it’s been really fun to watch his maturity and the man he’s grown into. His teammates love him. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.’’
Carey didn’t get on the scoresheet on Thursday, but he leads the team in scoring with 9 points in 9 games.
SWAYMAN STRONG AGAIN
Providence’s rookie goalie turned in another strong performance. He’s won all five of his starts and his save percentage is up to .935.
He held the fort in the first period when Bridgeport had some good chances and he was good in the third when the P-Bruins were shorthanded for nearly half the period.
“This rink, there’s some odd bounces, things happen really fast here. If you’re not ready early, you’re going to get exposed. I thought we got exposed a couple of times and he was square to every puck, he was in the right spot, found a couple that were screaming in from the point with some screens. He was great,’’ said Leach.
“Obviously, we had to rely on him again in the third with the four penalty kills we had. Again, square to the shooters. I actually missed the goal. I think it was some sort of a tip in front, if I’m not mistaken. He was good all night and he’s been that way every game we’ve seen.’’
LAUKO PACKS PUNCH
Jakub Lauko has displayed his speed, tenacity and scoring touch from the first game of the season.
On Thursday, he dropped his gloves and showed that he can handle himself in a fight.
Despite giving up a couple of inches and about 20 pounds to Parker Wotherspoon of the Sound Tigers, Lauko pounded out a clear decision.
“I just didn’t see it coming. I guess maybe they had some run-ins before that actually occurred,’’ said Leach.
“I knew that he fought a little bit in junior, but he certainly knew what he was doing. It was a great fight. I just was hoping he didn’t get hurt. You never know with those things, especially with guys that don’t fight much.
“It was impressive, and I actually thought he had a pretty good game. He was up and down and skating well. He’s had a really nice start to the season.’’