If the Connecticut Whale are going to make a serious run at a Calder Cup championship they are going to have to learn how to play with a lead and that it takes a full sixty minutes to win. Friday night in Binghamton, New York the Whale took on the Ottawa Senators top farm team and surrendered goals to forwards Andre Peterrsson and Pat Carrone in exactly sixty seconds and ex-Hartford Wolf Pack center Corey Locke would add an empty net goal in the final minute and the Whale lost for the eighth time in their last thirteen games (5-6-1-1) and saw their record when leading after the first period to 5-4-1-3 as they dropped a 3-1 decision in front of 3,684 at the Brome County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“I thought in the third period, when we pushed harder, we got more consistent offensive output,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander told the team’s Brian Ring afterwards. “In the first two periods, we tried forcing plays, we turned down shots, we didn’t put pucks deep and consequently we didn’t generate much offense. I think that was the difference between the third period and the first two.”
Tentative would best describe how the New York Rangers AHL affiliate started this game. As Gernander stated, they passed up shots and did a lot of dumping the puck in the Senators zone but didn’t chase them down. The last place Senators however did and pushed the Whale around on the ice. When Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki crushed the Whale’s Chris McKelvie hard into the boards by the center red line, Jordan Owens had seen enough and jumped in to fight for his teammate at 11:11.
Despite taking the harder shots in the fight, Owens woke his teammates out of their malaise and 1:33 later would take the lead.
Kelsey Tessier cleanly won a faceoff with Stephane Da Costa in the left circle in the offensive zone. The puck went back to Francois Bouchard who immediately fired a wrister past the games First Star, veteran netminder Mark McKenna (10-9-0, 38 saves).
In the twenty games since arriving in a trade with the Hershey Bears for defenseman Tomas Kundratek back in mid-November, Bouchard has only contributed four points (2g, 2a). Bouchard, now has a three game game points streak, potting a goal and five helpers for six points.
The Whale had another great scoring opportunity with 31 seconds left in the first when Andre Deveaux across the crease feed to Kelsey Tessier on the right gave the Whale center a great opportunity to deposit the puck in the back of the net, but Tessier could not lift the puck and McKenna got back in a near miraculous way to get the puck under him.
Sean Avery, playing in his second game since being sent back to the Whale last week made an impact early in the second period. It was his retaliation to being faked out of his skates in the neutral zone that led to a slashing call putting the Whale on their second PK at 6:29.
On that resulting power-play, Petersson took a pass from Locke, the game’s Second Star, in the middle of the slot and snapped a shot that eluded the blocker of Chad Johnson (10-6-3, 37 saves) and went to the back of the net. The goal was Petersson’s ninth of the season. The secondary assist went another one-time Hartford Wolf-Pack, forward Mike Hoffman.
Sixty seconds later, after the Whale just could not get the puck out of their own end, defenseman Tim Conboy made a strong play along the right side to keep the puck in the Whale zone and fired a shot form the right point that Pat Cannone deflected past an otherwise solid Johnson who was rightfully awarded the game’s Third Star.
The Whale narrowly avoided going down 3-1 later in the second period. At 11:49, Avery took another foolish penalty, an obvious and blatant crosscheck right in front of referee Chris Brown. On that power play Petersson smashed the puck off the crossbar from almost the exact spot that he’s scored from earlier.
Had Johnson not been particularly strong throughout, it could have been FAR worse as the Whale ended the second period trailing in shots 34-17.
However, as Gernander noted, the Whale woke up in the third period and exploded for their highest shot total since an October 15th game against Bridgeport when in the second frame they put 22 shots on net by doing the same in Binghamton in the third. But despite the rubber flying from everywhere, the Whale could not slip one past McKenna.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* Kris Newbury went scoreless ending his eight game points streak
* Tim Erixon had flu-like symptoms and did not make the trip with the team, but Mats Zuccarello, who, between his starting the season in New York and recovering from this leg injury, has been out for all but 18 games this season. He is skating skating hard in practice and could return soon. He travelled with the team.
* The 4th ranked CTWhale PP went 0-2 against a team who entered the game 29th of 30 in PK. Meanwhile their 10th ranked PK was 2/3 against the 16th ranked PP of the Senators
* Avery photos courtesy of Rebecca Catlett at Pressconnects.com
Audy-Marchessault – Newbury – Deveaux
Voros – Avery – Bourque
Bouchard – Tessier – Thuresson
Grant – Owens – McKelvie
Valentenko – Parlett
Bell – Klassen
Baldwin – Nightingale
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Wade Redden – Lower Body – Indefinite
Mats Zuccarello – Lower Body – 2-3 Weeks
Tim Erixon – Ill – Day-to-Day
Scott Tanski – Healthy Scratch
1. BNG – M. McKenna
2. BNG – C. Locke
3. CT – C. Johnson
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Chris Brown (86)
Jim Harper (59)
John Everett (82)
Back to the building so big they call it the XL Center as the Whale return home Saturday to start a home-and-home with the Springfield Falcons. 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 1 at Binghamton Senators 3 – Status: Final
Friday, January 6, 2012 – Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena
Connecticut 1 0 0 – 1
Binghamton 0 2 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Bouchard 3 (Tessier), 12:44. Penalties-Owens Ct (fighting), 11:11; Borowiecki Bng (fighting), 11:11; Bell Ct (cross-checking), 16:45.
2nd Period-2, Binghamton, Petersson 9 (Locke, Hoffman), 7:35 (PP). 3, Binghamton, Cannone 9 (Conboy, Dziurzynski), 8:35. Penalties-Avery Ct (slashing), 6:29; Hoffman Bng (slashing), 9:11; Avery Ct (cross-checking), 11:49.
3rd Period-4, Binghamton, Locke 3 (Petersson, Klinkhammer), 19:26 (EN). Penalties-Conboy Bng (delay of game), 5:42.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 10-7-22-39. Binghamton 16-18-6-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 2; Binghamton 1 / 3.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 10-6-3 (39 shots-37 saves). Binghamton, McKenna 10-9-0 (39 shots-38 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Jim Harper (59), John Everett (82)