SOUND TIGERS 3, BRUINS 1
Carter Verhaeghe came up big with two goals, while goalie Stephon Williams stood on his head with 28 saves as Bridgeport took the second game of a home and home series with Providence 3-1 on Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena.
The win puts the Sound Tigers one point ahead of Providence in the standings, although they are just .01-percentage point behind the Bruins after tonight.
The Sound Tigers’ chances started early when Kyle Burroughs sent a perfect lead pass to Colin Markison who had a breakaway chance against Providence goalie Zane McIntyre. Markison skated right around his defender before he sent a wrister at the Providence net, but McIntyre made the glove save.
Bridgeport’s penalty kill took the ice for the first time with 13:00 gone in the opening period when Jared Gomes got called for tripping on the forecheck. The Bruins controlled the puck and fired shot after shot at Williams, but the Sound Tigers’ netminder stood tall against the pressure. Williams finished the first period with 11 saves on 11 Bruins shots.
The Sound Tigers almost broke the scoreless tie with 17:42 gone in the first period when goal leader Bracken Kearns tried to put away a wrap-around from behind the net for his 20th goal of the year. Despite the miss, Taylor Beck cleaned up the rebound and shot a wicked wrister from the right faceoff circle but McIntyre covered the puck to stop Bridgeport’s momentum.
Verhaeghe put the Sound Tigers on top just 1:23 into the second period on his fourth goal of the year. Verhaeghe pressured Providence center Frank Vatrano to cause the turnover just before the Bruins zone. After he gained control and skated around Vatrano, Verhaeghe flicked the wrister right over McIntyre’s shoulder into the top left corner for his second goal in as many nights.
Connor Jones doubled the Sound Tigers lead with 11:49 gone in the second when he made it 2-0 over the Bruins. Markison worked the puck behind the net to Jones who swung back around the right faceoff circle where he would rip a low shot across the ice and past the right blocker of McIntyre. The goal was Jones’ second of the season, while Markison got his sixth assist and Jesse Graham earned his 12th helper on the secondary assist.
4:10 into the final frame, Kearns came close to increasing his goal total again. Markison used his speed to pick up the puck before he tried to beat McIntyre with the backhander, even though it was blocked away Kearns came flying in and fired the rebound right back at the net. McIntyre somehow was able to cover up the slap shot and keep the Sound Tigers lead at just two.
The Sound Tigers power play came through with 15:06 gone by in the third when Verhaeghe beat McIntyre for the second time. Kearns made the cross-ice pass to Verhaeghe who ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle past the left blocker of McIntyre. It was his fifth goal of the season and his first multi-goal game of his AHL career.
Providence broke up Williams’ shutout bid on a broken play in front of the net. After another brilliant save, Justin Hickman corralled the rebound and was able to sneak it past Williams who was stuck on his back. Despite the lone blemish on the scoreboard, it was a stellar overall game from the Sound Tigers’ goalie who finished with 28 stops, including a sprawling glove save with 24 seconds left on Austin Czarnik.
The Sound Tigers now sit at 29-21-3-2 with 63 points on the season, and will look to grab their 18th home win when they take on the Albany Devils at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday, February 28 at 5:00 p.m.
Verhaeghe – Kearns – Beck
Wright – Quine – Halmo
Vaive – Holmstrom – Florek
Jones – Gomes – Markison
Czuczman – Mayfield
Lafranchise – Burroughs
Graham – Carkner