Sound Tigers blow lead, lose in overtime at Lehigh Valley
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A couple of better plays at the right time, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers would be right behind Hershey and Providence in the playoff race after a huge weekend.
They bused home Sunday night with just one point to their credit in two games, their destiny out of their hands.
Lehigh Valley scored two goals in the last 10:33 of regulation Sunday at PPL Center, and Andy Miele won it with 34.1 seconds left in overtime, a 4-3 Phantoms win that leaves Bridgeport five points out of a playoff spot with nine games to go.
“We’ll take the point and keep going,” captain Ben Holmstrom said. “We knew it was going to be a fight all the way to the end of the season.”
In a quiet dressing room and hallway, it was clear how much of a gut-punch this weekend was.
Bridgeport spotted last-place Hartford a 3-0 lead Saturday night at the XL Center and lost 4-3. Sunday, it led 3-1 going to the third period on goals a minute apart by Andrew Rowe (power play) and Ross Johnston.
Maxim Lamarche led Mark Zengerle into the zone up the left side to beat Stephon Williams and make it 3-2 midway through the third. Miele scored on a power play, re-entering the zone, over Williams’ blocker with 2:42 to play to tie the game at 3-3.
Holmstrom didn’t want to talk about what might’ve turned around on the Sound Tigers in the third period. Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said he thought Bridgeport played hard.
“The refs got involved way too much in the hockey game,” Thompson said. “Against, and for, there were too many (penalties). Lately, there’ve been two or three, and the games have been good. Tonight it’s 6-5.”
Holmstrom was called for boarding Cole Bardreau to set up the tying goal. Bardreau was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after the Phantoms’ goal.
The overtime goal made certain Bridgeport would fall to 4-6-2-0 in its past 12 games, 6-8-2-0 in the past 16.
“It’s just like another day,” said Thompson, who’s been fond of the turn-the-page analogy with this team, win or lose. “There’s a little more sense of urgency moving forward, but we got a point tonight. We (threw) away an extra point.”
Bridgeport trails second-place Lehigh Valley by eight points and is five behind both Providence and Hershey. The top four make the playoffs. Two of the Sound Tigers’ nine remaining games are against Providence, and there’s one in Hershey.
Taylor Leier started Sunday’s winning play from behind and to the right of Williams.
“He tried to bank it off my skate. (The puck) was on the goal line. It didn’t go in, initially,” Williams said. “I reached back, in desperation, whatever you want to call it. I put it right to (Miele), and he scored.”
Williams rejoined Bridgeport from the ECHL earlier this week, when the New York Islanders called up veteran goalie Jaroslav Halak. This was Williams’ first AHL start in six weeks, and he made 34 saves.
He said he thought he played well. Thompson thought Williams might have wanted a couple of goals back.
Corban Knight opened the scoring for the Phantoms from the base of the left circle in the first period. Tim Wallace deflected in Ryan Pulock’s shot 30 seconds later to tie it.
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PHANTOMS 4, SOUND TIGERS 3 (OT)
Bridgeport 1 2 0 0—3
Lehigh Valley 1 0 2 1—4
First Period — 1, Lehigh Valley, Knight 9 (Aube-Kubel, Martel), 7:10. 2, Bridgeport, Wallace 1 (Pulock, Landry), 7:40. Penalties — Burroughs, Bpt (hooking), 9:27; Dal Colle, Bpt (hooking), 13:29; B.Holmstrom, Bpt (tripping), 18:48.
Second Period — 3, Bridgeport, Rowe 13 (Verhaeghe, Burroughs), 6:47 (pp). 4, Bridgeport, Johnston 8 (B.Holmstrom, Landry), 7:47. Penalties — Morin, LV (hooking), 4:58; Lehigh Valley bench, served Martel (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:47; Burroughs, Bpt (interference), 12:46; Alt, LV (hooking), 12:46; K.Jones, Bpt (tripping), 18:08; C.Jones, Bpt, double minor (roughing), 18:08; Martel, LV (roughing), 18:08.
Third Period — 5, Lehigh Valley, Zengerle 13 (Lamarche, Miele), 9:27. 6, Lehigh Valley, Miele 9 (Brennan, Sanheim), 17:18 (pp). Penalties — Bardreau, LV (tripping), :50; Martel, LV (delay of game), 13:37; B.Holmstrom, Bpt (boarding), 17:02; Bardreau, LV (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:18.
Overtime — 7, Lehigh Valley, Miele 10 (Leier, Brennan), 4:25. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 13-11-7-1—32. Lehigh Valley 13-11-8-6—38.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 1 of 5, Lehigh Valley 1 of 6.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Williams 6-13-1 (38 shots-34 saves). Lehigh Valley, Stolarz 18-7-0 (32-29).
Attendance — 8,501. Referees — D.Banfield, South. Linesmen — Lyons, Murray.