Providence, R.I. -- The Providence Bruins defeated the BridgeportSound Tigers 3-1 tonight at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Craig Cunningham and Garnet Exelby scored in the win, and goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 26 saves in the effort.
The Sound Tigers began the first period with a strong offensive push, spending the entirety of their first shift in the Providence zone. They had three shots, but none were quality enough to make it count on the scoreboard. The P-Bruins got the first real chance in the game four minutes in, as Bridgeport's Scott Campbell was sent off for a hooking minor.
Providence didn't generate many chances, and defensemen Torey Krug soon ended the man advantage on an interference call. Providence coasted through the four-on-four play, and quickly killed off the ensuing Bridgeport power play.
The remainder of the period was spent in a back and forth between the two Eastern Conference rivals, and while the P-Bruins had a late-period opportunity on a Nathan McIverpenalty, the period ended in a 0-0 draw despite both teams reaching double digits on the shot counter.
Providence began the second on the last remnants of the McIver penalty, but soon switched roles as Alexander Khokhlachev registered his first penalty of his professional career on a tripping call.
The P-Bruins killed it off, and were rewarded a few minutes later with a power play when Bridgeport's Kirill Kabanov was sent to the box for interference. Providence couldn't capitalize on the man advantage, but the game picked up its pace at the midway point of the second period.
After increased Providence pressure, Graham Mink passed it off to Craig Cunningham, who ripped a shot past Sound Tiger netminder Kenny Reiter to put the P-Bruins up 1-0. The blast was also assisted by Kevan Miller, and was Cunningham's 21st of the season.
Bridgeport took its fourth penalty of the night, on a Blair Riley charging minor, but were able to kill it off before finding themselves with a late chance when Providence's Bobby Robins ended the period on a goalie interference call.
Bridgeport was unable to convert, and the P-Bruins skated off with a 1-0 lead.
Alexander Fallstrom went to the box within the first minute of the third, and Providence goaltender Michael Hutchinson came up big for the P-Bruins when Bridgeport's Brock Nelson tried to go backdoor.
The teams traded penalties, and Bridgeport cashed in the equalizer on a Colby Cohen slashing minor. Jon Landry and Matt Donovan set up Sean Wiles at the left circles, and he rocketed one up to even up the score at one.
Just over three minutes later, Bridgeport's Ty Wishart got whistled for delay of game, and Providence wasted no time in taking the lead back.
Zach Trotman pulled off a shot from the right circle, and Cunningham put the rebound home on his second of the night and 22nd of the season, putting the P-Bruins up 2-1. Trying to rile up his team, McIver engaged Garnet Exelby in a fight, sending both to the box on fighting majors.
Bridgeport's final chance came when Trotman went off for cross-checking. Even with their goalie pulled, the Sound Tigers still could not find a way past Hutchinson, and their fate was sealed when Exelby's clear found the empty net, giving the P-Bruins a 3-1 victory.
Providence will travel to the DCU Center on Saturday, March 23, where they will face off against Atlantic Division rival, the Worcester Sharks.