The Connecticut Whale ended their four day holiday break and began their toughest stretch of the season that will see them play five games over the next eight days and as they did earlier in the season blew a lead entering the third period dropping a 3-2 decision on a late Tomas Marcinko goal to give the Bridgeport Sound Tigers the win at the Webster Bank Arena Monday night.
Marchinko’s backhander with just 4:26 left in regulation was the difference, but not before the Whale gave it all they had in the last 30 seconds. Sound Tigers goaltender, Kevin Poulin stoned Andre Deveaux just in front of the net with 29.4 seconds remaining on the clock just after the puck did an Evil Kneivel impression jumping over the stick of a wide-open Kelsey Tessier, who had an empty net to stuff it into. Poulin, who made a plethora of good saves throughout, was named the game’s Third Star.
Left winger Blair Riley made a great play on what proved to be the game winner, as he kept the puck in the Whale zone denying starting netminder Chad Johnson’s clearing attempt. Marcinko, the game’s first star, recovered the puck and sent it behind the net. Once there, Sam Klassen, who was playing in his second game since being recalled on December 20th from the Whale’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors, attempted to send the puck out. Veteran Trevor Frischmon read it and intercepted the puck behind the Whale net and found Marcinko in front on the left side where the Sound Tiger forward put it past Johnson and giving the home team the valuable two points.
Bridgeport battled hard to start the second frame to get a lead and then scored both early and late in the third to turn a Whale lead into a deficit they wouldn’t overcome.
Strong pressure in the Whale end led to a Scott Howes’ backhander that negated a Connecticut lead just 1:28 into the third frame. It was that same pressure, after Bridgeport gained momentum when they killed off a Tony Romano slashing call at 12:38, led to Marcinko’s game winner.
“We kind of have a little motto here,” ex-Wolf Pack defenseman and now Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson said in discussing his team’s strong start in the second and third period. “Two smart and then shift after every goal. Ultimately we have to be aware and smart in the first two minutes and same at the end of a period. Those are two biggest parts of a period and the start sort of sets the tone and I thought we had two pretty good starts to set the tone and carried that momentum for the rest of the period.”
“They came out pretty strong and pretty quick right from the start,” Johnson said. “I think they’re known for that this year…They just kind of hang around and hang around and in a situation like that, where you get a lucky bounce, and they capitalize and win the game.”
It was the strong start that gave the Sound Tigers the opening goal at 4:08 of the second frame.
Rhett Rakhshani, the game’s second star, broke a Sound Tigers scoreless steak of 168:19 with a great individual effort where he swept through the Whale defense and put a shot on goal that Johnson that brilliant save on. The save brought Johnson a bit out of the net and down, but the Whale Netminder did all he could to cover his net, but Rakhshani, who’d recovered his own rebound, was patient and when he saw an opening fired the puck into the far corner of the net from just above the right side goal line for his third of the season.
The Whale battled back and raised their battle level and it paid a dividend when left-winger Scott Howes gave the Whale their first power play opportunity at 9:05. 1:03 later, it was Deveaux’s deflection of a brilliant Brendan Bell hard pass from the left point that flew past the stick side blocker of Kevin Poulin (7-9-0, 30 saves) and tied the score.
Parlett would give the Whale their only lead of the contest at 15:57. Kris Newbury and Deveaux led a rush up ice and into the left wing side of the ice. Deveaux was low in the left corner and fed Newbury along the half boards. Newbury looked up and saw Parlett all alone on the right side of the crease. The Sound Tiger defense were sucked into the cycle Newbury and Deveaux had in the corner and the Whale’s top centerman made a brilliant cross ice pass threading the needle through traffic and right to Parlett. The Whale defenseman settled the puck and flipped the puck past Poulin for the 2-1 lead.
With time running out on the second period, Johnson made a brilliant save on a Joey Haddad scoring attempt as a dump in took a funny hop out of the left corner and had the Sound Tiger left winger one-on-one with the Whale goaltender. Johnson snuffed it out as time expired preserving the Whale advantage.
Connecticut entered the third frame with an 8-1-1-1 record when leading, but they were denied their ninth by the Sound Tiger’s push to start the third and their strong finish that led to the turnover that ultimately cost them the game.
Deveaux had another strong outing for the Whale since being returned to the AHL by the parent New York Rangers on December 1st for, as he describes it, “Elbowing his way out of the NHL.” The rugged right winger scored his eighth of the season and got the secondary helper on one of the nicest passing plays of the season in setting up Blake Parlett’s first goal in twelve games for the visitors. Johnson (10-5-3, 18 saves) was solid in net despite taking the loss.
“We made some mistakes, there were some lapses (at the start of the second and third periods) and we paid the price,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander said. “I thought we played well in large portions of the game, but the outcome wasn’t what we hoped for.”
(Listen to all the post game reaction below)
The CTPost is where you will find the exceptional coverage from Mike Fornabaio, who’ll take you inside the Sound Tigers locker-room.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
SOUNDS OF THE GAME:
* Excellent crowd at the Webster Bank Arena. Mike Fornabaio puts it all in perspective on his Soundin’ Off blog.
* Funniest line of the night came from Jason Chaimovich, VP of Communications for the AHL, who tweeted from his
@JChaimo account, “Bell and Deveaux are all well and good, but they’re not the same without Biv”
Audy-Marchessault – Newbury – Deveaux
Bouchard – Tessier – Thuresson
Voros – Owens – Bourque
Grant – McKelvie – Prough
Bell – Klassen
Valentenko – Parlett
Baldwin – Nightingale
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Mats Zuccarello – Lower Body Injury – Indefinite
Wade Redden – Lower Body Injury – Indefinite
Scott Tanksi – Healthy Scratch
1. BRI – T. Marcinko
2. BRI – R. Rakhshani
3. BRI – K. Poulin
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Dan Dreger (51)
Chris Cozzan (18)
Luke Galvin (2)
Derek Wahl (46)
The Whale play their second game of five games in eight days as they return home for a battle with he second place Albany Devils who were trounced 8-3 by the Binghamton Senators Monday night. Bob Crawford will be on the air with the pre-game show at 6:50pm 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 2 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3 – Status: Final
Monday, December 26, 2011 – Webster Bank Arena
Connecticut 0 2 0 – 2
Bridgeport 0 1 2 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-1, Bridgeport, Rakhshani 3 (Cizikas), 4:08. 2, Connecticut, Deveaux 8 (Bell, Audy-Marchessault), 10:08 (PP). 3, Connecticut, Parlett 3 (Newbury, Deveaux), 15:57. Penalties-Audy-Marchessault Ct (holding), 6:40; Howes Bri (holding), 9:05; Ness Bri (slashing), 11:53; Olson Bri (slashing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:57.
3rd Period-4, Bridgeport, Howes 7 (Rakhshani, Cizikas), 1:28. 5, Bridgeport, Marcinko 4 (Frischmon, Riley), 15:34. Penalties-Audy-Marchessault Ct (roughing), 4:22; McNeely Bri (roughing), 4:22; Romano Bri (slashing), 12:38.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 11-9-12-32. Bridgeport 9-7-5-21.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 4; Bridgeport 0 / 1.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 10-5-3 (21 shots-18 saves). Bridgeport, Poulin 7-9-0 (32 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Dan Dreger (51), Chris Cozzan (18).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Derek Wahl (46).