With three minutes left in the first period of last night’s game in Albany against the Devils, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were trailing 1-0 and had mustered a measly one shot on goal. They ended the first period with three shots, and at the 10-minute mark of the second period, they still had just six shots on net.
See latest entry with better news on yesterday's game against Syracuse as BPort ends skid at 8 - http://my.hockeybuzz.com/...d=55451&post_id=14270
They picked up their play in the second half of the game -- actually finishing with a respectable 23 shots -- but they were already in a two-goal hole by that point, and would not recover, dropping their eighth straight game by a final score of 3-1.
Not surprisingly, the Sound Tigers, the most penalized team in the AHL, hurt themselves by taking ill-timed penalties, yielding two lengthy 5-on-3 opportunities -- one before the game was even two minutes old, and the second leading to the Devils’ second goal. In the third period, Bridgeport would have had a three-minute power play, as Jacob Josefson was called for a five-minute major for boarding Brock Nelson (the first two minutes were washed out by a Brett Gallant roughing penalty for punching basically every Devil he could find after the play to send a message as Nelson lay on the ice). But Matt Donovan took a hooking penalty before Gallant’s penalty was up, actually giving the Devils a short power play instead and ending perhaps the team’s best chance to get back in the game.
The only Sound Tigers’ goal came well after the game was decided, at 17:53 into the third -- an unassisted tally by, surprise, Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter pulled the puck nicely to his backhand and powered around a Devils’ defenseman and then shot the puck from in close to the far post to beat Albany goaltender Keith Kinkaid.
The Devils’ first goal at 12:37 of the first came off of a slow wrister from the point by Adam Larsson that snuck under Anders Nilsson’s pad. To be fair, the slow shot was tipped on the way in by Joe Whitney, who was credited with the goal, but it was still an awkward one to give up for Nilsson, who did not help out his flagging numbers by yielding three goals on the night on 25 shots. Nilsson now has a .888 save percentage for the season, slightly worse than Kevin Poulin’s .895. Yeah, it’s been a rough go for the goalies during this train wreck of a slide for the team.
Albany’s second goal came at 4:42 of the second during that second lengthy 5-on-3. Their third goal came at 11:31 of the second, shortly after Bridgeport finally started getting some shots on net and generating some offensive pressure.
The story of this game was that while there was a fair amount of flow in both directions, and not too many shots from either team early on, the Devils were able to get the job done, grab a lead, and hang on. Also, while Bridgeport has tended to run around a bit too much in its own zone for most of this season, Albany displayed last night something I have seen from few AHL teams so far this season: sound defensive structure. That made a big difference.
The Sound Tigers did look much better in the second half of the game than they did in the first, but the team has to be a lot more desperate a lot sooner in these games if it wants to break this losing streak. Per Michael Fornabaio's blog at the Connecticut Post
), coach Scott Pellerin noted that the Devils blocked a lot of shots, but be that as it may, three shots in the first period and six through the first half of the game is pretty tough to excuse when you’re trying to snap a seven-game slide.
A BIT OF CHAOS
It took quite a while for the refs to sort out the penalties on the play in the third period in which Nelson was boarded. People were in and out of the box during the extended stoppage. In the end, Gallant ended up with a two-minute roughing penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct call, Josefson got a five-minute major for boarding, and Larsson got an unsportsmanlike conduct -- I believe for not having his jersey tied down, a fact that came to light as Gallant flung him around and punched him even though Larsson did not drop the gloves. Gallant went a little wild, but Sound Tigers and Islanders fans probably don’t mind seeing that when it’s a response to having Bridgeport’s second-highest point getter and Islanders’ first-round pick Nelson flat on his stomach after taking a hit from behind.
David Ullstrom and Travis Hamonic were again out of the lineup for the Sound Tigers. I have seen no word on when either is expected back. Ullstrom is a curious case, as Fornabaio quoted Pellerin as saying Ullstrom was a "game-time decision" back on Dec. 2 when Bridgeport played the Norfolk Admirals and he hasn't played since. In fact, Ullstrom went from being a game-time decision on Dec. 2 to merely having "progressed to being able to work out" on Dec. 6. I imagine he was hurt a bit more seriously than initially thought, unless he does his recovery in reverse. Per Fornabaio, both Ullstrom and Hamonic are listed as day-to-day.
A man on fire. He now has 11 goals and 22 points through 22 games.
BY THE NUMBERS
Shots: Bridgeport -- 23, Albany -- 25
Power Play: Bridgeport -- 0/4, Albany -- 1/6
Niederreiter: 1g, even
‘ALL STARS’ MIKE MOTTAU AND JON SIM
Two former Islanders who did not endear themselves to too many fans while playing on Long Island -- defenseman Mike Mottau and forward Jon Sim -- have signed PTOs with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. It’s a bit strange to see the AHL press release use the term “All stars” and the names “Mottau” and “Sim” in the same headline, but sure enough, Mottau was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2000-01 and played in the AHL All-Star Classic in 2001, 2002 and 2006, while Sim was the MVP of the 2003 AHL All-Star Game.
Niederreiter -- 22gp, 11g, 11a, 22 pts
Nelson -- 22gp, 9g, 7a, 16 pts
Sundstrom -- 22gp, 6g, 6a, 12 pts
McDonald -- 20gp, 2g, 10a, 12 pts
Landry -- 22gp, 5g, 6a, 11 pts
Donovan also has 11 points
Bridgeport is home today, Sunday, Dec. 9 to take on the East Division-leading Syracuse Crunch. The game starts at 3...about a half-hour after this entry will be posted. Syracuse inherited the roster of last year’s Calder Cup Champions, the Norfolk Admirals, after the Tampa Bay Lightning changed its AHL affiliate to Syracuse from Norfolk.