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King's goal in third o.t. gives P-Bruins 3-2 victory

The goal, coming 55 seconds into the third extra period, gives Providence a 3-0 lead over Rochester in the Calder Cup finals.
Journal Sports Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- An old friend came back to haunt the Rochester Americans last night.

Providence's Steve King snapped a 2-2 tie 55 seconds into the third overtime and gave the P-Bruins a 3-2 victory and a commanding 3-0 lead in this Calder Cup championship series.

Providence will try to clinch its first Calder Cup title tomorrow night here at the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. About half of the crowd of 6,736 was still on hand when King scored his game-winner. Providence thought it had won the game on an Antii Laaskonen goal at 17:44 of the second overtime when he went around Amerks defenseman Jason Holland and beat Martin Biron with a wrist shot over his right shoulder.

Referee Brad Watson, however, immediately disallowed the goal, claiming he had blown his whistle for matching penalties to Providence's Marquis Mathieu for high sticking and Rochester Randy Cunneyworth for slashing. Providence protested, but to no avail.

Both goaltenders, Biron for Rochester, and John Grahame for Providence were outstanding. Each ended with 50 saves.

In the first overtime, Providence failed to cash in on a power play, and then had Joel Prpic stopped by Biron on a breakaway down the slot. The P-Bruins outshot the Amerks in that extra period, 14-7.

Making matters even more difficult for Providence were injuries to forward Eric Nickulas and defenseman Terry Virtue late in the second period. Both suffered leg injuries and were unable to play in the third period or the overtime sessions. Their status for Game 4 is uncertain.

Providence got first-period goals from Mathieu and Peter Ferraro. Rochester got a first-period score from Domenic Pittis.

After a scoreless second period, Rochester defenseman Cory Sarich tied the game at 2-2, at 1:33 of the third period. That goal came when Grahame was accidentally knocked down by Andre Savage. Grahame could not scramble back to an uncovered net in time to stop a drive from the right circle by Sarich.

From that point on, goaltenders Grahame and Biron of Rochester closed the door on any further scoring in regulation. Grahame finished with 33 saves in regulation; Biron had 25.

For the third consecutive game, Rochester outshot Providence in regulation, this time by a 35-27 margin.

Mathieu got Providence on the board at 4:00 of the first period when he wristed a high drive past Biron from the slot. Just over two minutes later, Pittis recorded his first point of the series when he beat Grahame with a high drive from the right circle. Pittis skated around the side of the net into the circle, grabbed a pass from Craig Fisher and beat the Providence goalie with his high wrister.

Providence went ahead, 2-1, at 13:16 of the opening period when Ferraro flipped in a power-play goal with Sarich in the box for hooking.

Virtue started the play with a slap shot at Biron from the right point. The rebound came to Ferraro to Biron's left. With the Amerks' netminder on his back, Ferraro, from his knees, lifted the puck into the far side.

Before the period ended Grahame was forced to make a couple of sharp pad saves on Pittis and defenseman Mike Hurlbut during a Rochester power play.

The second period was scoreless but it was Grahame who was the star of the session, coming up with a number of sparkling stops when Providence put Rochester on the power play three times. Each time the Amerks came up empty.

Rochester's best scoring chance in that period came after Aaron Downey went off for charging at 7:16. During that power play, Fisher unleashed a drive at Grahame from out front that broke through Grahame's pads but dropped to the ice in the crease. Mathieu, backchecking hard, was able to swipe the puck out of trouble.

However, the final two minutes of the period proved costly to the P-Bruins when Nickulas and Virtue had to be helped off the ice. First, with 1:57 left, Nickulas was ridden into the back boards by Rochester defenseman Alexandre Boikov. His left leg crashed into the boards at an awkward angle.  Ironically, it was Boikov who had to miss Game 2 of this series after being checked hard from behind by Nickulas in the series opener.

Then, in the final minute of the period, Virtue skated to the side boards, tried to stop, but caught an edge in the ice and went down. He, too, had to have help getting off the ice. That left Providence with only four
defensemen to finish the game.

Copyright 1999 The Providence Journal Company

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