SOUND TIGERS Sound Tigers fall to Providence on OT penalty shot
BRIDGEPORT — It’s a point in the standings, coming from behind to get it, and it’s small consolation for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after a winnable game went the other way Saturday night.
Ryan Fitzgerald scored on a penalty shot 3:04 into overtime to give the Providence Bruins a 2-1 win in a game that seemed to be lacking something from the home side for 40 minutes.
“I think just consistent effort,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said.
“We didn’t execute a lot of the breakouts. It seemed like when we did get the puck on our stick, we just threw it away. Is it execution, or is it effort? Or is it a combination of both?”
Since a five-game winning streak ended in mid-November, the Sound Tigers are a somewhat soupy 3-2-2-1, accumulating points (they are 8-0-2-1 in their past 11 home games, tied for the second-longest home points streak in the franchise’s 18 seasons) without putting together the big wins that marked the earlier streak.
“I think we’re just lacking that (consistency) the last three or four games,” forward Tanner Fritz said, “trying to play a full 60 (minutes), come out, be aggressive, finish our hits. I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we’re on our toes, not on our heels.”
Parker Wotherspoon’s one-timer, off a Josh Ho-Sang spinning cross-ice pass from the left-wing boards, got the Sound Tigers their goal 1:54 into the third period.
But they couldn’t grab a lead on a five-on-three a few minutes later, stymied by Bruins goalie Dan Vladar.
“It was a really good third for us. It was our best 20 for sure,” forward Connor Jones said. “That was Sound Tiger hockey, gritty, physical, outworking Providence. Just came up a little short.”
In overtime, the Bruins forced a turnover as Fritz went to the bench to get a replacement for a broken stick. He wound up blocking Anders Bjork’s shot off his chest, diving to the front of the net (”Thank God it didn’t go off my teeth,” Fritz said).
A minute later, Fitzgerald knocked the puck away from Chris Bourque, and on his second try, Emil Johansson sprang Fitzgerald for a breakaway from the far blue line. Ryan Bourque hooked him off the puck in front of the net, and the penalty-shot call came immediately. Fitzgerald beat Christopher Gibson (solid himself with 27 saves) to the blocker side.
There is only one other overtime penalty shot in Sound Tigers history, coincidentally in Providence. With Gibson off for an extra attacker on March 4, 2016, Bridgeport scored two goals, one of them Fritz’s first AHL goal, in the last minute of regulation to tie it, then Bracken Kearns scored on a penalty shot to win it for the Sound Tigers.
It went against them this time.
“We can’t give those guys that kind of opportunity in overtime,” Thompson said.
Attendance was 3,008.
The Bruins opened the scoring on a goal by Greenwich native Wiley Sherman.
Seth Helgeson played his 100th consecutive AHL game and his 99th as a Sound Tiger.
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BRUINS 2, SOUND TIGERS 1 (OT)
Providence0 1 0 1—2
Bridgeport0 0 1 0—1
First Period — No scoring. Penalties — Vande Sompel, Bpt (cross-checking), 5:00; Bakos, Pro (tripping), 6:12; Casto, Bpt (high-sticking), 11:42; Cehlarik, Pro (slashing), 13:04; Bridgeport bench, served Ho-Sang (too many men), 17:20.
Second Period — 1, Providence, Sherman 2 (Blidh, Fyten), 5:48. Penalties — Bakos, Pro (tripping), 8:27; Dal Colle, Bpt (slashing), 8:31; Blidh, Pro (slashing), 11:35.
Third Period — 2, Bridgeport, Wotherspoon 3 (Ho-Sang, Burroughs), 1:54. Penalties — Johansson, Pro (holding), 3:05; Hughes, Pro (slashing), 4:41; St. Denis, Bpt (interference), 8:08.
Overtime — 3, Providence, Fitzgerald 7, 3:04 (penalty shot). Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — Providence 10-7-8-4—29. Bridgeport 7-9-14-0—30.
Power play opportunities — Providence 0 of 5, Bridgeport 0 of 6.
Goaltenders — Providence, Vladar 4-4-1 (30 shots-29 saves). Bridgeport, Gibson 7-3-3 (29-27).
Attendance — 3,008. Referees — J.Williams, Pontes. Linesmen — Galvin, Simeon.