PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Maine hockey team has become Providence College’s punching bag the past two seasons.

The Friars flex, the Black Bears flinch.

It happened again Friday as No. 13 Providence bullied its way to a 5-2 victory before an announced crowd of 2,453 at Schneider Arena.

It was the Friars’ fifth consecutive win against Maine, and this one sent the Black Bears tumbling from eighth place to 10th in the Hockey East standings with one final game in the regular season, at 7 p.m. Saturday here.

“Their intensity gets ratcheted up and ours doesn’t stay at the same level. That’s how you lose games,” Maine Coach Red Gendron lamented after witnessing a familiar pattern this season.

“When we’re not at our best, this is the stuff we do. This is who we are right now as a team. It’s the idea that we’ll do what’s required for one period but we have a hard time sustaining.”

The Black Bears unraveled in the second period, when Providence sent 16 close-range shots at goaltender Matt Morris and converted on three of them. It was reminiscent of the first period of Maine’s 6-4 loss to Northeastern last Friday.

The defensive breakdowns were exacerbated by an early injury to Black Bear sophomore Eric Schurhamer. That depleted Maine’s blue line to five players and certainly took a physical toll. But it didn’t explain the number of mental mistakes that allowed Friars to stand alone near the crease for long stretches.

“They had the forecheck going pretty good. They were hitting everything that moved. It was really wearing our ‘D’ down,” Maine defenseman Ben Hutton said. “We weren’t winning our battles on the boards and it was in our end too much.”

Maine took a 1-0 lead 4:54 into the game when Brady Campbell used a strong forecheck to steal a puck and feed Stu Higgins for a one-timer in the slot. It was Higgins’ first goal of the season.

“He made it easy on me, put it right in my wheelhouse and I got a quick release, put it just above (Providence goaltender Jon Gillies’) pad,” said Higgins, a senior assistant captain.

But the Friars tied the score on a Ross Mauermann slap shot at 7:23 of the first period, then took control in the second.

Maine cut the lead to 4-2 with a short-handed goal at 8:01 of the third period. Devin Shore and Hutton broke out on a two-on-one. Shore got to the crease and fed a behind-the-back pass to Hutton, who lifted the puck over Gillies.

“I thought he was shooting it, to be honest,” Hutton said of Shore. “I couldn’t really see because of their guy, but it was a great pass. I had pretty much half the net to shoot at.”

Maine generated few other opportunities, however, and Providence answered Hutton’s goal with a power-play score by Noel Acciari 44 seconds later. The Friars won 15 of 19 faceoffs in the third period, and outshot Maine 42-21 for the game in a dominant performance.

Maine’s loss, combined with victories by Connecticut and New Hampshire, means the Black Bears need at least a tie Saturday to climb past the Huskies and into ninth place. UConn has concluded its season and is tied with Maine in the standings, but Maine owns the tiebreaker. New Hampshire, which sits in eighth place, one point ahead of Maine and Connecticut, hosts Merrimack on Saturday. Maine can pass its rival with a tie or a win and a New Hampshire loss. The teams that finish ninth through 12th in Hockey East will be on the road next weekend for best-of-three playoff series.

So there is much at stake for Maine. The team may be able to draw some consolation from what happened last weekend, when it followed that Friday night debacle with a 6-3 win on Saturday.

“It just came down to attitude and grit,” Higgins said of last weekend’s turnaround. “(Saturday’s) going to be a man’s game. We’re going to have to come at them and push back.”