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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Merkulov, Bruins Down Penguins

#AHL | One night after falling to the @AHLBruins in a shootout, the @WBSPenguins finished the home-and-home, looking for a different result. Our @FPHBears fills you in on what happened.

Merkulov, Bruins Down Penguins

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It was the second half of a home-and-home set between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Providence Bruins, this time from the confines of the Mohegan Sun Arena. The shift in venue did little to flip the script, even with different goaltenders between the pipes, as Georgii Merkulov scored his third goal and fifth point in two games that once again proved to be a difference-maker as the Bruins took the game by a 3-1 score. Filip Lindberg took the loss in goal with 33 saves, while Keith Kinkaid delivered the win with 26 stops.

The Bruins, who have three different goaltenders right now without dressing All-Star netminder Brandon Bussi in the set of games, roared out of the gate with 16 shots on goal despite three trips to the penalty box in the opening stanza. One such trip cost the B’s, as the Penguins stole the puck below the goal line and made a quick tic-tac-toe passing play that finished with Valtteri Puustinen’s 18th goal of the season, tenth on the power play, to give the Pens a 1-0 advantage.

The special teams powered all of the scoring in this game.

The Bruins got on the scoreboard during their second man-advantage of the game when Sam Asselin fed the puck from low-to-high to Jack Ahcan, who fired a picture-perfect shot by Lindberg off the goalpost and in for his third goal of the year. Both teams registered ten shots on goal in the period, giving each goaltender got a workout in the middle stanza. Kinkaid came up with a few remarkable saves in the frame, including a big rebound stop on Jamie Devane that maintained the tie.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. With the game on the line in the third period, the Bruins were on the power play, zipping the puck around, when Connor Carrick set up Merkulov inside the right faceoff circle for a one-time blast to beat Lindberg to put the Bruins ahead.

Try as they might, the Penguins could not muster a tying goal, with the Bruins burying an empty net goal to seal the game. All three Providence goals came courtesy of the power play in this game to snag two big points in regulation and maintain their standings lead.

It’s another disappointing finish for the Penguins, who once again put forth a respectable effort against a difficult foe. It won’t do them much good in the standings, but the good news is that their immediate competition, Hartford and Bridgeport, both suffered regulation losses last night, so the battle for the sixth playoff spot remains tight, with the difference between the three teams only spanning one point.

The Penguins will look to get back on track when they host the Hershey Bears for the last time this season Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the Bruins will match winning streaks with the Springfield Thunderbirds in a huge division tilt Friday, which could be a possible playoff preview.

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