BostonBruins.com - The Providence Bruins have been no strangers to adversity this postseason. They overcame a 2-1 series deficit in their best-of-five, opening-round matchup with Wilkes-Barre, and entering Tuesday night's Game 6 against Hershey, the P-Bruins once again found themselves facing elimination.
Things did not get easier once the puck dropped. Hershey opened up a two-goal lead in the first period and appeared to be well on their way to wrapping up the Atlantic Division Finals.
But some reassuring words from Providence's veteran core during the first intermission proved to be a turning point.
"They got off to good start," said Providence forward Danton Heinen. "I think after the first period a couple of the older guys settled everybody down and we got refocused, didn't panic and got going in the second."
That they did - and they didn't look back.
Heinen got Providence on the board just 37 seconds into the middle period, setting off a run of four unanswered goals as the P-Bruins stormed back for a 4-2 victory to force Game 7 on Wednesday night.
"It was huge. It started out with a good forecheck, good play by [Wayne Simpson] to Tommy [Cross] and then he kind of threw it over towards my side and Heinz just picked up the rebound, it was perfect," said P-Bruins forward Austin Czarnik, who notched an assist on the goal.
"When you can score on the first shift of the second period, it was huge for us. It really started to put us on the right track."
Colton Hargrove knotted the game, 2-2, just under six minutes later, before Chris Porter (goal, assist) tallied his fourth of the postseason to give Providence the lead for good with only 23 seconds to go in the second.
"We were obviously a little down [after the first], but we just realized that we had to bear down and there was still 40 minutes to go," said Czarnik. "They scored two in the first and we believed we could do it. We just stuck to our game plan, the game plan's been working for us. We just stuck with it and we were able to get four."
Czarnik gave Providence some breathing room when he capped the scoring with his third of the postseason midway through the third period.
"We had a good forecheck," said Czarnik. "Picked up the puck and [Jake] DeBrusk was able to get in right away and cause a little turnover by them. Noel [Acciari] beat his guy along then boards. I was yelling for the puck from Noel and he gave it to me, made a quick little move and just shot it. Just put my head down and shot it and it went in. That was good for us and that really helped us to have a two-goal lead."
Now it's time for another do-or-die.
"I think we're all excited right now, coming off a big win like [Tuesday night]," said Czarnik. "The season could have ended and we had the response that we had. We're just going to do the same thing [Wednesday], just work hard every single shift and play a heavy game like we've done and hopefully come out on top.
"We're just going to go out there and give everything we've got and enjoy the time that we have here."
Heinen Leading the Way
Heinen's goal was his fifth of the postseason. The first-year pro now has 10 points (five goals, five assists) during the playoffs, which leads Providence and is tied for second in the AHL. He has been riding on the left wing alongside Jordan Szwarz and Wayne Simpson.
"Kind of just trying to do the same things I always do," said Heinen, who played in eight games for Boston this season. "My linemates are playing great, they're finding me all over the ice. I've got to set them up a little more. It's been going well right now.
"Sometimes it goes in for you, sometimes it doesn't. Right now it seems to be going in."
Hitting the Century Mark
The victory was the Providence Bruins' 100th postseason victory all-time…According to AHL Communications, the P-Bruins are the fifth team in Calder Cup Playoffs history to win three elimination games on the road in the same playoffs, which is a record.
"Now we know we [came back in the] last series," said Heinen. "I think now that gives us a little bit of belief that we've done it before and we can do it again. I think the older guys are great, they lead and the young guys follow. We try to keep the same mindset and not change the way we play."