P-Bruins finish off Sharks, move to conference finals

Providence took control early and cruised to a 5-1 win over Worcester on Wednesday at the DCU Center. Brad Marchand and Martin St. Pierre each had a goal and an assist, and Tuukka Rask finished with 34 saves on the night.

The Bruins eliminated the Sharks in six games and will battle Hershey in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning on Saturday and Sunday in Pennsylvania. Providence will be making its fifth trip to the conference finals in the last 11 years, but its first since falling to eventual-champion Philadelphia in 2005.

The Bruins’ top line gave them a 1-0 lead on Wednesday when rookie Brad Marchand converted a cross-crease pass from Vladimir Sobotka on the power play at 4:59 of the opening period. Martin St. Pierre also picked up an assist on Marchand’s fourth goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs.

Providence then made it a 2-0 game at 10:05 as Peter Schaefer threw a pass from the top of the left circle through the slot to Jamie Arniel, who tapped it in for his first professional goal before Worcester goaltender Thomas Greiss could recover.

It marked the first time all postseason that the Bruins registered two goals in the first period and came after three straight games in which Worcester blanked the B’s in the opening frame.

Kirk MacDonald tipped a deflected puck into a wide-open net at 5:32 of the second period to extend the lead to 3-0, and the edge bulged to 5-0 on tallies by Jordan Knackstedt and St. Pierre.

Worcester finally got on the board when rookie Andrew Desjardins converted a shorthanded breakaway bid with 12 seconds to play in the middle frame, and neither side scored in the third period.

Marchand and St. Pierre each finished with four goals and eight points in six games against the Sharks, and Rask improved his overall postseason mark to 8-3.

Providence has now won eight consecutive playoff games with a chance to eliminate an opponent since dropping Game 7 of the 2000 conference finals to Hartford.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A2-Providence Bruins
Game 1 – Sat., May 16 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 17 – Providence at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Fri., May 22 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 25 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 27 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., May 28 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00