Eansor takes his opportunities, lifts Sound Tigers over Hartford
BRIDGEPORT — He’s the guy who might not have been in the opening-night lineup last year, then scored that night and six more times in the five games after that.
Scott Eansor might not have been on the ice for a late-second-period penalty kill Thursday night at Webster Bank Arena. He forced a turnover to score short-handed, the difference in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ 3-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Eansor has four goals in the past three games for Bridgeport, which has at least a point in a team-record 15 consecutive home games (12-0-2-1).
“Just bounces,” Eansor said. “I had a lot of good opportunities at the beginning of the year that just didn’t go in. I’m taking advantage of opportunities now. It’s chance. I’m trying to ride it, ride the ups and downs.”
Eansor scored the game’s first goal on a two-on-one off a feed from Tanner Fritz, and the Sound Tigers never trailed, though Hartford tied it twice.
He untied it for the last time with 22.9 seconds left in the second period, taking the puck away from John Gilmour, shaking off a Vinni Lettieri slash and backhanding the puck around Dustin Tokarski’s left skate.
“He’s been coming offensively. He goes to the net. He works hard. It’s nice to see him rewarded for all his hard work,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said.
“He’s always been one of those guys, if you look at his history, who actually generates offense on the penalty kill.”
Eansor was at the front of the net to score Bridgeport’s fifth goal in a 6-1 win at Charlotte on Dec. 21, then took a Chris Casto lead pass to score the only Sound Tigers goal the next night in a 3-1 loss at Charlotte, their last game before a four-day Christmas break.
“Just my teammates made really nice plays a couple of times,” Eansor said. “The assists are a big part of it. Casto, the game before.”
Attendance was 5,098, largest of the home season aside from the Nov. 7 “Cool Fun 101” morning game.
Eansor is often part of Bridgeport’s penalty-kill rotation, but the game had begun with Stephen Gionta and Jeff Kubiak as the Sound Tigers’ second pair of forwards. Earlier in the second period, looking for a rebound, Kubiak was knocked off-balance by Steven Fogarty, flying hard into the end boards.
Kubiak was slow to get up and slow to the dressing room, and he did not return; Thompson didn’t have an immediate status on him after the game. But his penalty-kill spot happened to be filled by Eansor.
Bridgeport received a late-game major power play after Hartford captain Cole Schneider went after Connor Jones after a whistle, retaliation for a hit in the Bridgeport end earlier in the shift.
The Wolf Pack managed to pull goalie Dustin Tokarski for an extra attacker in the last minute to make it five skaters on five, but Bridgeport goalie Jeremy Smith finished off a 23-save victory, his fifth win in his past six games.
The teams meet again Saturday in Hartford. The Wolf Pack have Friday night off, but Bridgeport plays at Springfield.
Ville Meskanen and Lettieri scored Hartford’s goals. Kieffer Bellows got Bridgeport’s second goal midway through the first period at four-on-four off a Kyle Burroughs setup.
The Sound Tigers’ Ryan Bourque played his 500th professional game. He played one in the NHL with the New York Rangers on April 9, 2015, and 499 in the AHL, including 102 for Bridgeport and 325 for Hartford.
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SOUND TIGERS 3, WOLF PACK 2
Hartford1 1 0—2
Bridgeport2 1 0—3
First Period — 1, Bridgeport, Eansor 4 (Fritz), 2:17. 2, Hartford, Meskanen 7 (Bigras, O’Gara), 3:48. 3, Bridgeport, Bellows 8 (Burroughs, Wotherspoon), 10:36. Penalties — Vande Sompel, Bpt (holding), 8:50; Hartford bench, served Gilmour (too many men), 10:24; Hajek, Hfd (cross-checking), 12:17.
Second Period — 4, Hartford, Lettieri 8 (Fogarty), 13:20. 5, Bridgeport, Eansor 5, 19:37 (sh). Penalties — Wallin, Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct-playing without helmet), 7:01; Fogarty, Hfd (boarding), 10:52; Casto, Bpt (hooking), 18:48.
Third Period — No scoring. Penalties — Schneider, Hfd, minor-major-double game misconduct (instigating in last five minutes, fighting-aggressor), 16:57; Jones, Bpt (roughing), 16:57.
Shots on goal — Hartford 9-7-9—25. Bridgeport 10-10-11—31.
Power play opportunities — Hartford 0 of 2, Bridgeport 0 of 5.
Goaltenders — Hartford, Tokarski 7-4-1 (31 shots-28 saves). Bridgeport, Smith 10-5-1 (25-23).
Attendance — 5,098. Referees — MacDougall, Gouin. Linesmen — B.Lyons, Pincus.