Late power-play goal costs Sound Tigers in OT loss at Hartford
HARTFORD — Special teams helped Bridgeport build a lead in the first period Wednesday morning at the XL Center. It helped the Sound Tigers preserve that lead into the third period.
Special teams let the Hartford Wolf Pack take back momentum, tie it late and snap the Sound Tigers’ five-game winning streak, beating Bridgeport 4-3 in overtime at the start of the Sound Tigers’ three-game road trip.
John Gilmour’s power-play goal, his second goal of the morning, made it 3-3 with 3:45 left in regulation. Gilmour set up Bobby Butler’s winner 23 seconds into overtime.
“We were in a situation to close the game out. Those are games that we’ve got to learn how to do that,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “Playoff-type hockey, it’s smart plays at the (blue lines). It’s second efforts. It’s simplifying, especially the last five minutes of the game.”
Travis St. Denis was hit with a cross-checking penalty next to Bridgeport goalie Christopher Gibson’s net with 4:14 left. Gilmour’s shot through Tim Gettinger’s screen found the back of the net to tie it after the teams had played over 42 minutes without a goal.
That followed a Ryan Bourque tripping minor with 6:39 to go that had given Hartford its third power play.
“You knew those power plays were coming, but you don’t want to give the referees reason to call those,” Thompson said.
He figured they were coming because the referees had given Bridgeport three power plays early in the period. The Sound Tigers didn’t generate much with them, turned the puck over and allowed the Wolf Pack scoring chances.
“Just a little laid-back, a little nonchalant,” said Tanner Fritz, who scored his first two goals of the season in the first period on the power play. “We’ve got to be able to put a team away.”
It didn’t help that Bridgeport was without Steve Bernier, a focal point on one of its two power-play units, and Kyle Burroughs, a mainstay on the penalty kill, because of AHL suspensions. Burroughs returns Friday night in Laval, Quebec, while Bernier’s two-game suspension keeps him out until Saturday night in Belleville, Ontario.
Attendance, mostly school groups for the 11 a.m. start targeted toward them, was 3,952.
Gibson became the first Sound Tigers goalie to earn two assists in a game.
He stopped the puck behind the net for Devon Toews, who started a rush that turned into Fritz’s second goal. Fritz came up the right side and beat Hartford goalie Alexandar Georgiev, down for the day from the New York Rangers, inside the near post.
Four minutes later, Gibson fired the puck up the left-wing boards to Otto Koivula, who sent Jeff Kubiak ahead for the goal that made it 3-2.
(Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Tristan Jarry upstaged Gibson’s offensive morning, though, scoring an empty-net goal up the road at Springfield and becoming the 14th AHL goalie credited with a goal.)
Boo Nieves opened the scoring in the first minute of the game, going to the net to put the puck away after Ville Meskanen’s second effort got the puck there.
Fritz tied it, tapping the puck in after Kieffer Bellows’ shot squeaked through Georgiev. Gilmour’s floater through traffic found its way in to give the Pack a 2-1 lead at 4:26.
Bridgeport reclaimed the lead and held it most of the rest of the day, just not quite long enough.
“A point’s a point,” Fritz said. “We can take that into Laval and hopefully start another streak.”
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WOLF PACK 4, SOUND TIGERS 3 (OT)
Bridgeport3 0 0 0—3
Hartford2 0 1 1—4
First Period — 1, Hartford, Nieves 1 (Meskanen, Beleskey), :46. 2, Bridgeport, Fritz 1 (Bellows, Toews), 3:14 (pp). 3, Hartford, Gilmour 4 (Holland), 4:26. 4, Bridgeport, Fritz 2 (Toews, Gibson), 9:29 (pp). 5, Bridgeport, Kubiak 2 (Koivula, Gibson), 13:37. Penalties — Bigras, Hfd (holding), 2:48; Gropp, Hfd (hooking), 8:08.
Second Period — No scoring. Penalties — Vande Sompel, Bpt (holding), 2:25; Rathgeb, Bpt (slashing), 8:46; Ronning, Hfd (tripping), 16:43.
Third Period — 6, Hartford, Gilmour 5 (Nieves, Gropp), 16:15 (pp). Penalties — O’Gara, Hfd (roughing), 2:29; Holland, Hfd (hooking), 4:46; Fogarty, Hfd (tripping), 8:53; R.Bourque, Bpt (tripping), 13:21; St. Denis, Bpt (cross-checking), 15:46.
Overtime — 7, Hartford, Butler 4 (Gilmour, Holland), :23. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 11-8-10-0—29. Hartford 10-3-9-1—23.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 2 of 6, Hartford 1 of 4.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Gibson 5-4-0 (23 shots-19 saves). Hartford, Georgiev 2-1-0 (29-26).
Attendance — 3,952. Referees — Schrader, Waterstradt. Linesmen — K.Briganti, N.Briganti.