SOUND TIGERS 5, PHANTOMS 4 (SO)
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers made it 11 straight games with a point, defeating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday night at PPL Center.
It wasn’t easy for Bridgeport, who took 26 penalty minutes to the Phantoms six. Bridgeport went 1-for-3 on the power play while the Phantoms went 2-for-8.
A fast-paced first 10 minutes favoring the Sound Tigers culminated in a power play for Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers made no mistake on the man advantage, as Jesse Graham teed up a one-timer past Anthony Stolarz to open the scoring. It was Graham’s first goal since November 21 and his first since being returned to the Sound Tigers on Wednesday.
Moments later, it looked as if the Phantoms had tied the game, but the goal was waved off due to an early whistle.
Lehigh Valley made sure their next one counted, as they got a power play of their own with 4:30 left in the period. Although they didn’t score on the man advantage, they scored four seconds after the teams were evened up. Phil DeSimone broke up a 2-on-1 at one end of the ice, then walked through the entire Bridgeport defense to tie the game at 1-1.
The power plays continued for the Phantoms, as they got three in a span of seven minutes going into the second period. They came through on their third, with Adam Comrie blasting a shot through traffic that eluded everyone and found the back of the net. Comrie’s second of the season was the first time Bridgeport trailed since four games ago in Hershey.
Despite the Phantoms controlling the pace of play to start the second, Taylor Beck cut into Lehigh Valley’s momentum with a goal of his own. Beck ripped a shot over the glove of Stolarz from the top of the left circle to tie the game at 2-2. Beck’s 15th of the season was his second in as many games at PPL Center, scoring in nearly the exact same spot as on December 26 in Allentown.
Both teams traded chances for the next five minutes with Gibson and Stolarz making a couple of huge saves to keep the game tied. Then Colin Markison went to work, setting up Connor Jones, who trickled one through Stolarz’s five hole to re-take the lead for Bridgeport. Jones’ first as a Sound Tiger came off assists from Markison and Kane Lafranchise, who assisted on the first three Bridgeport goals.
Alan Quine increased Bridgeport’s lead 1:08 into the third period. Kyle Burroughs chipped the puck out to Quine at the top of the slot and he beat Stolarz over the blocker to make it 4-2. Quine’s goal gave him 11 straight games with a point, beating his prior career high.
Lehigh Valley had a response with eight minutes to go in the game. Chris Conner walked through the Bridgeport defense then found Taylor Leier who slammed home his 16th of the season. Leier’s goal made it a one-goal game and it was not the last time he and Conner would hook up.
With just over two minutes left to go in regulation, Matt Carkner was called for holding, given two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and given a 10-minute misconduct. The Phantoms took advantage when Conner found Leier again, who tied the game with 1:54 remaining.
The teams had their fair share of chances in overtime, but the game went to a shootout. Gibson stopped Leier in the first round, while Graham made a beautiful backhand-forehand move to beat Stolarz. Gibson stopped the remaining two shooters for the victory.
Gibson ended the game with 33 saves. Lafranchise was the number one star of the game with his three assists.
The Sound Tigers look to make it 12 straight games with a point tomorrow against the Albany Devils for Anders Lee Bobblehead Day at Webster Bank Arena. Puck drops at 5:00 p.m.
Gomes – Kearns – Beck
Wright – Quine – Halmo
Vaive – Holmstrom – Holmstrom
Collberg – Jones – Markison
Czuczman – Burroughs
Lafranchise – Pulock
Carkner – Graham