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Bruins Edge Bears in Atlantic Standoff

Bruins Edge Bears in Atlantic Standoff

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –  The two best teams in the Atlantic Division faced off for the final time in the regular season on Wednesday night, and the Providence Bruins reclaimed the top spot in the division with a 3-1 win over the visiting Hershey Bears at Amica Mutual Pavilion. It’s the fifth straight game won by the Bruins in the season series and halts Hershey’s point streak at nine games while breaking a brief two-game slide for Providence to take over the division lead by a single point. Shane Bowers had a pair of goals in the win while Kyle Keyser made 28 saves in the win. Hunter Shepard took the loss for Hershey with 27 saves.

It’s becoming apparent between two of the top teams in the division that it’ll take a perfect effort from start to finish to take the win in this matchup as the teams play a very similar style of play against each other. The Bruins had good news going into the game as forward Vinni Lettieri returned from an absence that spanned back to the last time the two teams faced off, as he’d ultimately get credit for the empty-net goal that sealed the win for Providence as well as an assist for another multi-point game.

Providence took their breaks where they could get them. Bowers tallied the first goal on a shot from the point that had eyes and got through bodies as well as Shepard to open the scoring, while his second tally saw him collect a rebound of a Lettieri shot for a lay-up that ultimately stood as the winner. Hershey cut into the lead when Beck Malenstyn took the puck to the net and jammed it past Keyser that was declared a goal after video review, but that’s as far as Hershey would get in this game.

The regular season series has had all the makings of one that would translate well to the playoffs, which could happen in the division finals round. Hershey hasn’t had the answer in a variety of different situations, but this game has been atypical from their success in recent time as they didn’t score first as they’ve done in their last six games. The slow start snowballed into a deficit that the Bears nearly came back from to force extra time with a 14-4 shot advantage in the third period, but playing from a position of strength in this matchup has proven to be lethal.

The two points restores Providence to the top of the division by a one-point margin. Both teams have five games left on their respective schedules, meaning that the Bruins are in control of their own destiny while the Bears will need some help in order to get back into the top spot. If the teams were to face off in the playoffs, the winner would get home ice advantage as a huge perk with how successful each team has been in their own building as well as how the Bears have struggled there of late. Hershey’s last win in Providence came way back in January of 2020, with the Bears coming up empty on the road for the last two seasons.

Hershey is in Springfield to wrap up a road trip on Friday against the Thunderbirds, while Providence remains home to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins the same day.

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