SOUND TIGERS TAKE OPENER IN HOME-AND-HOME SERIES
BRIDGEPORT, CT - A pair of quick third period tallies doomed the Penguins on Saturday night, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers posted a 3-2 win at the Arena at Harbor Yard. With the win, the Sound Tigers leap frogged the Pens and moved into second place in the East Division standings.
“One to one on the road going into a third period is a situation, against a top team like Bridgeport, you’re OK with that situation,” said head coach Todd Reirden. “I would be discouraged about our third period if they came out and just got run over and they dominated us. I don’t think that was the case.
“But in the same respect, they converted their chances and we didn’t, and we need to continue to get better in that area.”
Bridgeport tallied twice in a span of 1:03 to start the period, as Mike Iggulden took a Jesse Joensuu feed from behind the net and banged home his 22nd goal of the season, and Dustin Kohn picked the near corner over goaltender Adam Berkhoel’s right shoulder.
“The frustrating part of it was we had a good kill to start the period, we talked about that,” Reirden said. “Then Janne [Pesonen] goes back to play the puck and his stick gets caught in the boards. He doesn’t have a stick, and that turns it over. Then we have the unfortunate bounce off the linesman, that gives them another chance. That’s frustrating, but that’s the breaks of the game.”
The Penguins squandered a huge opportunity late in the game when Mitch Fritz was shown the showers for butt-ending Paul Bissonnette with just over six minutes to play. The Penguins received a five-minute power play for the infraction, but failed to convert on the extended advantage.
“Obviously you put yourself in a situation where you have to have a goal there to tie things up,” said the coach. “Credit to them, they did a good job with their pressure. We knew they were coming. We were up for it and just weren’t able to get the tying goal there.
“We had some chances there just missing the net. It was [Jeff] Taffe with the big one-timer there at the end, and it was [Chris] Minard and Pesonen. Those are the guys we want to have the puck at that point in the game, and they just weren’t able to convert.”
Pesonen gave the Pens the early lead by picking up a rebound and backhanding home his second goal in as many nights at 16:41 of the first period.
Berkhoel kept the Pens in front for the next 20 minutes with some spectacular saves, including a big glove save with 5.3 seconds left in the first period, and a point-blank save on Tomas Marcinko at 17:28 of the second.
But former Penguin Kurtis McLean bit his old club, netting a four-on-four goal a minute later to even the game at 1-1 before the Sound Tigers took the lead for good in the third.
Deryk Engelland made the score close with a wrister through traffic for his second of the year - and first on the power play - with seven and a half minutes to play.
The loss sets up an important meeting on Sunday afternoon, when these two teams will square off once again, this time in Wilkes-Barre.
“We know that now this puts them ahead of us. We know what’s at stake on a nightly basis here,” he said. “It will be something definitely that will add a little something to tomorrow’s game, and I look forward to seeing our response.”