Providence finally found a way to solve Antero Niittymaki, and it was barely enough to send the Eastern Conference Final back to Philadelphia for a Game 6.
Brad Boyes scored with 1:10 left in regulation to give the Bruins a wild 6-4 victory at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Friday night. The Phantoms still have a 3-2 series lead, and get another chance to wrap it up on Sunday.
The Bruins scored three goals in the first 8:55 of the second period to chase Niittymaki, then squandered the lead in a five-minute span of the third before Boyes’s late-game heroics.
Pat Leahy added an empty-netter with 56 seconds left to provide the final margin.
Providence jumped out to a 10-2 lead in shots and took an early 1-0 lead on Patrice Bergeron‘s first goal of the series 6:01 into the game. But Philadelphia answered, with Eric Meloche finding a loose puck in front and burying it past Hannu Toivonen to tie the score at the 13:27 mark.
The Bruins opened the second period on a power play, and took all of seven seconds before Andy Hilbert beat Niittymaki on a drive from just inside the blue line.
Just over three minutes later, Colton Orr redirected a pass from Kevin Dallman to make it 3-1, and Andrew Alberts scored his first professional goal with 11:05 to go in the period, sending the Phantoms’ standout netminder to the bench in favor of Neil Little after surrendering four goals on 18 shots. Niittymaki had stopped 125 of 130 shots in the series entering Game 5.
Josh Gratton, who scored the first of Philadelphia’s six unanswered third-period goals in their series-clinching win over Wilkes-Barre last round, sparked another comeback with 9:08 left in regulation as the ice tilted heavily in the Phantoms’ favor.
Dennis Seidenberg made it 4-3 with 5:45 to play, and Jeff Carter tied it with his league-leading 11th playoff goal just 80 seconds later.
Philadelphia kept pressing, but Boyes found the back of the net in the waning seconds for his second game-winner of the series.
Niittymaki, who returned to the cage at the start of the third period, finished with 19 saves on the night. Toivonen made 34 stops, including 15 over the final 20 minutes.