PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Overtime has not been too kind to the Providence Bruins.
Entering Sunday night's Game 2 against the Syracuse Crunch at the Dunkin Donuts Center, they had lost eight straight games in OT, including four this postseason.
After a 1-1 stalemate following 60 minutes, the P-Bruins again found themselves playing beyond regulation.
This time, they were the ones celebrating.
Jordan Szwarz notched his second of the night with 11:32 on the clock in overtime to lift Providence to a 2-1 victory over the Crunch. The series is now knotted at 1-1 as it shifts to Syracuse for Game 3 (May 24), Game 4 (May 26), and Game 5 (May 27).
"Obviously it's on our mind," Szwarz said of the overtime stat. "Those are kind of depressing losses when you lose in overtime - you battle all the way and then you come up short in overtime, so we were just talking about how good of a feeling it would be to get the win and get the momentum back our way. Fortunately, it's that way now."
Danton Heinen provided net-front presence on the goal, and had the primary assist on Szwarz's first goal of the night that tied that game at 1-1 on the power play in the second period.
The ebbs and flows of Game 2 were vastly different from Game 1, when the P-Bruins had to try to overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period. In that game, they scored two quick goals to pull within one, but ultimately fell 6-3 thanks to two Syracuse empty-netters.
On Sunday night, the P-Bruins avoided the need for a huge rally.
However, they did still need to overcome a 1-0 deficit in the first period. The Crunch opened the scoring just 1:26 into the first period on their first shot of the game. After a breakdown, Ben Thomas put one top shelf on Zane McIntyre, who then made 26 straight saves through the end of regulation.
"Goal on the first shot, too. That's where you go back to your basics, go back to your foundation, and just try to stay with it and stay focused," said McIntyre. "Me personally, I use different self talk methods or little phrases that I've come up with throughout the years and it seems to help. And just keep building on that."
"As a team, too, I think everybody just needed to take a deep breath and re-gather their thoughts and not get too out of hand or emotional, and we did that," said McIntyre. "I felt like we bounced back well and were able to push the pace at the end of the first and carried that over into the second and third."
Providence struggled to get shots on goal early, including during the man advantage, and was outshot 11-6 in the period, but started to pick up speed towards the end of the opening frame.
The second period saw the P-Bruins pick up momentum. Syracuse didn't put a shot on goal until 11:34 left in the frame.
The line of Anton Blidh, Peter Mueller and Ryan Fitzgerald raised the energy level and helped give the team a lift.
McIntyre made the necessary stops. One attempt by the Crunch resulted in a massive scrum in front, which led to a video review. The play was deemed "no goal."
Despite not being able to generated much on the man advantage in the first period, Providence tied the game at 1-1 with a power play goal from Szwarz at 3:23 to go in the first. Heinen set up Szwarz from behind the goal line for the bang-bang play.
In the third period, the game opened up and both teams traded scoring chances. McIntyre was up to the task for Providence, making eight saves in the third, while Mike McKenna made 11 saves for Syracuse.
McKenna made an especially flashy glove save in the splits on Providence defenseman Chris Casto with about five minutes to go in the third.
"The third period was probably a fun period for a fan, because there were good chances both ways," said Providence Head Coach Kevin Dean. "I thought we played a very determined game. We fell behind, and there was some frustration creeping in, but we stuck with it, and got the power play in the second and obviously the overtime winner, but I was proud of the way we stuck with it."
Twice in the third period, McIntyre was faced with odd-man rushes, and game up with tremendous stops. One came on a 3-on-0 opportunity for Syracuse, who also had a 4-on-1 chance but missed the net. McIntyre made post-to-post saves in the final minute of regulation to help force the OT.
McIntyre finished the night with 29 saves on 30 shots, while McKenna made 34 saves on 36 shots.
On the Injury Front
The Providence Bruins continue to have a number of injuries, including two player who ended the season with Boston. Sean Kuraly remains out with an upper-body injury, while Noel Acciari is also sidelined by an upper-body injury that he suffered in Game 7 against Hershey.
With Acciari injured, Zach Senyshyn again skated in his place on a line with Colton Hargrove and Colby Cave. It marked the third professional game of his AHL career.
Mueller retuned to the lineup on Sunday night for Game 2 after missing Game 1 with a lower-body injury. With Mueller back in the lineup, Tyler Randell was a healthy scratch.
Defenseman Rob O'Gara is still sidelined by injury and missed his 11th straight game on Sunday night.