Maybe having a lead entering the third period is a bad thing for this year’s edition of the Connecticut Whale. They’ve had a lead at some point in each of the previous sixteen games coming into the Dunkin Donuts Center Sunday afternoon for a battle with the Providence Bruins. The Whale have squandered those leads to the tune of seven losses. However in this contest, the Whale never led; well not until John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin scored in the shootout capping an improbable comeback from a two-goal, third period deficit to give the Whale the 3-2 win.
“It was a good perseverant, come-from-behind win in the third,” Fifth year Whale head coach Ken Gernander told reporters after the contest. “The guys did a great job in the third and really gutted one out.”
“Gutting one out,” certainly didn’t seem like it was in the stars for the New York Rangers top farm club after the first two lackluster periods. The Whale surrendered first and second period power-play goals to the Bruin’s Jamie Tardif, the game’s First Star. But the Whale came out on fire to start the third period and fired 19 shots on starter Anton Khudobin (7-8-1, 33 saves) and buried the puck in the Bruin end of the ice for most of the period. In fact the Bruins only managed a meager five shots on Cam Talbot (5-2-0, 18 saves) with none of them any serious threat to get past the Whale starting netminder.
The Whale forecheck was dominant and there were long stretches that the Whale were able to make line changes while still keeping the puck deep in the Bruins’ zone. That relentless pressure eventually paid dividends when the hero of Friday night’s game with the Sound Tigers, Brendan Bell got the team on the board at 9:18.
“I think one shift fed off another, we were creating good pressure in their own end for long extended shifts and the guys got hungrier as the period went along,” Gernander said of his team’s play.
Stu Bickel fed Bell in the right circle and the Whale D-man caught Khudobin going down to his knees a bit early and snapped it over the stick side and into the Bruin net. Since being a healthy scratch two games ago against St. John’s, apparently Gernander’s message has been received as the veteran defensemen has responded with key goals and assists in both games and now has four points, (2g , 2a), over the past three games.
Unlike past games where after a goal, the Whale have had moments where they let up, often take a penalty and get themselves into trouble and too often giving the goal right back…not this time.
The Whale picked right back up where they left off and kept pressing even more looking for the equalizer. That perseverance paid dividends 8:45 later when, after some incredible work to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Jordan Owens knotted the score netting his third of the season.
Bell fired a shot from the left side. The puck hit off Andreas Thuresson right over to Owens who lifted it and back-handed it past Khudobin with just 1:57 to go to send the game to overtime.
Apart from a strong save by Khudobin on a Kelsey Tessier shot with 59 seconds to go, it was a pretty lackadaisical extra session. This was the Bruins third game in three nights and it was apparent and they were sufficiently tired…especially in the third period which for long stretches the Whale had them pinned in their own zone.
After Zach Hamill fired a shot off the post to start the skills competition portion of the game, Mitchell went first for the Whale. The Whale’s top centerman faked, got Khudobin to move and then easily backhanded the puck into a near empty net.
In the second round, Josh Hennessy missed a backhander for the Bruins and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was denied by Khudobin’s pad.
Jamie Arniel was next for the home team and he fired a shot as he came up the slot with speed and went high over the reaching Talbot to tie it up.
Bell had a chance to give the Whale the lead again. His shot got through Khudobin, but it didn’t have enough gas to make it over the line.
Tardiff was stopped by the Talbot’s glove. Thuresson went for a forehand shot that was easily send away.
In the fifth round, both Carter Camper and Bouchard missed their respective attempts.
Maxime Sauve was the Bruins next chance to win it but Talbot rose to the occasion and sent him packing right away.
It was then Hagelin’s turn and the Sodertalje, Sweden did not disappoint. He flew down the middle of the ice and ripped a backhanded shot over Khudobin’s glove for the game winner.
Brian Ring has the Whale version of the day’s event at CTWhale.com. Whatever perspective there will be for Providence you’ll find ether at the Projo.com (although they don’t do much so don’t be surprised if it isn’t there) or at ProvidenceBruins.com.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* No word on how long Wade Redden will be sidelined for.
* The Whale have been in more shootouts than any other team in the AHL and are 4-2 in the skills competition. Cam Talbot is 2-0 and Chad Johnson is 2-2.
* 1-1-6 is now the Whale’s record in OT.
Hagelin – Mitchell – Bouchard
Audy-Marchessault – Newbury – Bourque
Grant – Tessier – Thuresson
McKelvie – Owens – Tanski
Erixon – Bickel
Valentenko – Parlett
Bell – Baldwin
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Jared Nightingale – Healthy Scratch
Aaron Voros – Healthy Scratch
Mats Zuccarello – Ill – Day-to-Day
Wade Redden – Upper Body Injury – Undisclosed
1. PRO – J. Tardif
2. CT – B. Bell
3. CT – C. Hagelin
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Keith Kaval (40)
Bob Paquette (18)
Bob Bernard (42)
Bob Crawford will have the broadcast from the XL Center Wednesday night as the Whale put their two game win streak on the line against the Portland Pirates. The pre-game show starts at 6:30pm on WCCC.com.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information for all home games, call (860) 548-2000.
Connecticut Whale 3 (SO) at Providence Bruins 2 – Status: Final SO
Sunday, November 20, 2011 – Dunkin’ Donuts Center
Connecticut 0 0 2 0 – 3
Providence 1 1 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Providence, Tardif 5 (Camper, Warsofsky), 3:18 (PP). Penalties-Thuresson Ct (boarding), 1:34; McKelvie Ct (fighting), 4:03; Randell Pro (boarding, fighting), 4:03; Mitchell Ct (tripping), 19:37.
2nd Period-2, Providence, Tardif 6 (Warsofsky, Camper), 1:27 (PP). Penalties-Button Pro (slashing), 1:51; Parlett Ct (cross-checking), 5:21; Cohen Pro (holding), 7:57; Bartkowski Pro (holding), 9:47; Audy-Marchessault Ct (roughing), 10:11; Hamill Pro (roughing), 10:11; Newbury Ct (roughing), 12:30; Cunningham Pro (hooking), 15:14; Arniel Pro (slashing), 19:17.
3rd Period-3, Connecticut, Bell 2 (Bickel), 9:18. 4, Connecticut, Owens 3 (Thuresson, Bell), 18:03. Penalties-No Penalties
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Connecticut 2 (Mitchell G, Audy-Marchessault NG, Bell NG, Thuresson NG, Bouchard NG, Hagelin G), Providence 1 (Hamill NG, Hennessy NG, Arniel G, Tardif NG, Camper NG, Sauve NG).
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 6-9-19-1-1-36. Providence 6-6-5-3-0-20.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 6; Providence 2 / 4.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 5-2-0 (20 shots-18 saves). Providence, Khudobin 7-8-1 (35 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (40).
Linesmen-Bob Paquette (18), Bob Bernard (42).