HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Whale forward J.T. Miller scored twice in the third period, including the eventual game-winning goal 1:41 into the final frame as Connecticut defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-2 at the XL Center in Hartford on Wednesday night. With the win, the Whale improves to 10-9-2-0. The Sound Tigers fall to 10-10-0-1.
The Whale jumped out to an early lead just 3:46 into the opening period. After the Whale had killed off an early Kris Newbury hooking penalty, Ryan Bourque gained control of the puck behind the Sound Tigers net and found Kelsey Tessier on the doorstep. Tessier took the feed and fired over the blocker of Sound Tigers goaltender Anders Nilsson for his first goal of the year to give the Whale a 1-0 lead.
The Sound Tigers evened the score on the power play with 3:26 left in the first period. Nino Niederreiter won a battle along the right half-wall in the Whale zone and slid the puck in the slot to Colin McDonald. McDonald set the puck up for Jon Landry as he skated towards the slot, and the veteran defenseman one-timed a blast over Talbot’s glove for his fifth goal of the season.
However, the Whale responded just 21 seconds later to regain its lead. The Sound Tigers lost possession of the puck deep in their own zone, and Brandon Segal made them pay as he fired from the slot past Nilsson’s blocker to put the Whale ahead 2-1.
The Sound Tigers controlled much of the play in the latter half of the second period, and their hard work resulted in a game-tying goal with 1:43 left in the middle stanza. Matt Watkins kept a clearing attempt in the Whale zone, and John Persson found the loose puck in the slot and fired over Talbot’s glove to knot the score at two.
An unfortunate bounce gave the Whale a 3-2 lead 1:41 into the third period. Jordan Hill’s clearing attempt from behind his own net caromed off of Miller’s stick, and bounced directly on net past Nilsson who wasn’t expecting the redirection. Miller doubled the Whale’s lead 2:58 later, taking advantage as the Sound Tigers were unable to clear their zone. Miller skated in from the left circle on Nilsson, deked and backhanded the puck in for his second goal of the period. The Sound Tigers were unable to mount a comeback late in the game, as penalties to Niederreiter and Sean Backman left Bridgeport shorthanded twice in the final seven minutes.
Cam Talbot made 17 saves to earn the win for the Whale, while Anders Nilsson made 19 saves in the loss for the Sound Tigers.
The Sound Tigers look to snap their seven-game winless skid when they travel to the Times Union Center to face the Albany Devils for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m.
Notes: Landry wore an assistant captain’s “A” on his sweater for the first time this season, alongside McDonald and Casey Cizikas … Brandon DeFazio was given a game misconduct after coming off of the bench on a line change to fight the Whale’s Brandon Segal after he had boarded Matt Donovan … The Sound Tigers were 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Whale went 0-for-4 … The Sound Tigers had no power play opportunities in the final 34:14 of the game … Nino Niederreiter (10 goals, 11 assists) is averaging a point per game this season.
1. CTW: J.T. Miller
2. CTW: Kelsey Tessier
3. BST: John Persson
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
22 Nino Niederreiter – 29 Brock Nelson – 13 Colin McDonald (A)
23 John Persson – 28 Johan Sundstrom – 16 Sean Backman
40 Mike Halmo – 11 Casey Cizikas (A) – 42 Brandon DeFazio
44 Brett Gallant – 14 Matt Watkins – 20 Blair Riley
46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart
27 Aaron Ness – 7 Jon Landry (A)
25 Jordan Hill – 8 Nathan McIver
45 Anders Nilsson (starter)
38 Kevin Poulin