Nearly simultaneously on Saturday night, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division saw their seasons come to disappointing ends, as Manchester and Hartford bowed out in their respective division semifinal series.
Brad Boyes scored with four minutes remaining in regulation at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, lifting Providence to a 3-1 win over the Monarchs, and Cam Ward made 40 saves as Lowell shut out the Wolf Pack, 3-0.
The Bruins and Lock Monsters will meet in the Atlantic Division final, beginning Friday night at the Tsongas Arena.
Providence scored three times in the third period to knock off the Monarchs, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference but failed for the fourth year in a row to make it out of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Patrice Bergeron tied the score on a power play 4:34 into the final frame, and Jayme Filipowicz iced it with an empty-netter in the final seconds.
Hannu Toivonen made 31 saves on the night.
Manchester finished the regular season with the second-best defense in the AHL, but allowed 22 goals in six games to the B’s.
Troy Milam scored the only goal for the Monarchs in Game 6. Mike Cammalleri picked up an assist, but the league’s leading goal-scorer in the regular season was held to just one goal in the series.
In Lowell, Chuck Kobasew led the offense with two goals and an assist and Eric Staal added three assists, but the hero was Ward, who made 20 of his 40 stops with the Wolf Pack buzzing in the third period.
A Hartford parade to the penalty box in the second period allowed the Lock Monsters to break a scoreless tie on power-play goals by Kobasew and Allan Rourke. Kobasew added an empty-net goal in the third period.
Kobasew and Staal combined for six points in Game 6; they had a combined four points in Games 1 through 5.
The Wolf Pack, who were one goal away from reaching the Calder Cup Final in 2004, failed to win a playoff series for the third time in the last five postseasons.
Lowell and Providence will play a 3-3-1 format in their division final series as the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus invades the Dunkin’ Donuts Center next week.