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P-Bruins strike first as King nets two, 4-2
Journal Sports Writer

PROVIDENCE -- Winning the opener in the Calder Cup finals for the Providence Bruins didn't come easy. That's for sure. It was defensive struggle the likes of which Providence had not faced in some time.  But that's exactly what the P-Bruins expected from the stingiest defensive team in the American Hockey League, the Rochester Americans, who effectively bottled up Providence's high powered attack for two

Still, Providence managed to come up with just enough offense from Steve King, Landon Wilson and Peter Ferraro to pull out a thrilling 4-2 win in front of a crowd of 11,306 at the Civic Center last night. Providence will host Game 2 in the series tonight.

Two goals by King, including the game-winner that snapped a 2-2 tie at 7:35 of the final period, paced Providence to its 12th playoff win.  His winning goal came on a drive from the hash mark of the right
circle, eluding Rochester's all-star goalie Martin Biron. King and Wilson had given Providence a 2-1 lead after one period.

``It looked like it got re-directed in front,'' said King of his second goal, ``but I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could. It looked like Biron had a good angle. All I wanted to do was get it on net.''

Biron, who played with King last year at Rochester, knew what was coming from his former teammate.

``I know he has a hard shot,'' Biron said. ``He came down the wing, but his shot hit (defenseman Jason) Holland's stick, went into the air and into the top corner. The bounce just went their way tonight, that's all.''

After being limited to only five shots in the second period, Providence picked up its offense in the final period and just missed converting a pair of breakaways by Jeremy Brown and Andre Savage before King connected for his game- winner . Ferraro's empty-netter iced the win with 5.2 seconds left in the game.

John Grahame preserved the lead after Rochester pulled Biron in the final minute and finished the game with 34 saves.

``Johnny Grahame kept us in the game with some terrific saves in the first two periods,'' King said.
Providence coach Peter Laviolette knows his team has to play better if it is to get three more victories to secure the first Calder Cup in franchise history.

``We're going to have to get stronger,'' Laviolette said. ``They're a very good defensive team. They create a lot of chances on turnovers.  It's difficult to play them. In that last period, we simply tried to get the puck deeper and establish the forecheck and we picked up our intensity to match what they were doing.''

Laviolette certainly appreciated the effort by King, who sat out five of the six games in the Conference finals against Fredericton.

``He played a great game for us. We looked at his playoff stats. He's got 22 playoff goals in a very limited amount of time so he's a playoff player who can put the puck in the net.''

Rochester coach Brian McCutcheon could only look at missed opportunities by his team as one of the reasons his team is down a game in the title series.

``It was a heck of a hockey game. It was up and down. The big crowd was into it, but the key was we didn't capitalize on our opportunities, especially in the second period when we had a four-minute power play,'' McCutcheon said. ``We didn't capitalize.  They got a shot, it deflected off our defenseman and went over Marty's shoulder. You can't fault him for that.''

King opened the scoring when he gave Providence a 1-0 lead at 3:29 of the first period, with Brown and Terry Virtue assisting. Providence opened fast and kept the puck in the Americans' end. King, latching
onto the puck after it deflected off a skate, beat Biron for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Rochester evened things at 1-1 at 9:17 of the period when Amerks right wing Matt Davidson beat Grahame from low in the right circle. Grahame saw the play developing but couldn't get his left pad over to the right post quickly enough and Davidson's shot slid into the cage.

Landon Wilson's power-play goal with Rochester's Derek Wood off for hooking sent the P-Bruins ahead, 2-1, at 13:32 of the first period.  Virtue sent the play into motion when he dumped the puck deep into the
Rochester end. Providence moved the puck around smartly and it eventually came across the blue line to defenseman Jason McBain at the left point. McBain one-timed a drive at Biron but it went wide and,
Wilson, standing at the far post, grabbed it and tucked in a backhander for his fourth goal of the postseason.

The second period, though, was all Rochester. The Americans quickly tied it, 2-2, one second before a penalty to King expired when Dean Sylvester beat Grahame from in close at 1:16.

The P-Bruins finished the period with only five shots at Biron, the lowest total in the playoffs for a period by Providence. After two periods, Rochester had outshot Providence, 25-15.

Copyright 1999 The Providence Journal Company

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