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Sharks' newbies nipped; Power play again stalls.

Byline: Bill Ballou

PROVIDENCE - The AHL has spring training, too, except that it is not called the Grapefruit League, and the games count in the standings.

The Icicle League? The Sherbet League? Whatever, the Sharks played one of those end-of-season tryout games against the Providence Bruins here last night and lost it, 3-1. Worcester had three players in its lineup making their pro debuts - they played well, so don't blame them for the defeat - while Providence got two goals from Maxime Sauve in his first pro game, one goal from Devin Timberlake in his second pro game, and two assists from Joe Colborne in his first pro game.

Where the Bruins didn't have a rookie was in net, and veteran Dany Sabourin helped save the evening for Providence. He stopped 48 of the Sharks' 49 shots.

Portland won, so Worcester's lead in the Atlantic Division is three points. Both the Sharks and Pirates have five games left to play and, upon further review, Worcester's magic number to clinch is actually eight points.

Portland's maximum points total is 106. The Sharks have 99 points and need seven to get to 106. Both teams could wind up with 48 wins - the first tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is season series, and Worcester leads it, eight points to seven, with the final game of the season set for Portland.

Let's say the Pirates win it in overtime or a shootout - the season series ends at nine points each, and the next tiebreaker is goals differential. After last night, the Sharks are plus-31 in that category, Portland plus-29.

So Worcester would be well-advised not to let it get down to that final game.

T.J. Trevelyan had the only Sharks goal last night, with rookie James Marcou getting an assist. Defenseman Nick Schaus had a very strong game and Matt Irwin, also a defenseman, was plus-1.

"This was a special-teams game," Sharks coach Roy Sommer said, noting that Providence had two power-play goals to Worcester's none.

The power play is a real concern at present. The Sharks were 0 for 4 last night and have not scored a power-play goal in six straight games, and in their last 10 are 1 for 37. This is where they really miss Logan Couture and Jason Demers - especially Couture. Since he departed for San Jose, Worcester's power play is 1 for 31.

"We miss him. I'd be lying if I said we didn't," Sommer said. "Just look at all the points he piled up on the power play. But now we're gonna have to figure out a way to get it done with what we have here."

And if they want to avoid the agony of trying to figure out a last-game tiebreaker, they'll have to do it soon.

NAME: WORCESTER SHARKS
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 3, 2010
Words:464
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