ALLENTOWN, PA - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (39-24-3-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a hard-fought point on Sunday but suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (43-20-4-0) at the PPL Center.
Tim Wallace, Andrew Rowe and Ross Johnston each found the back of net as Bridgeport built a two-goal lead after the second period, but Lehigh Valley stormed back with three unanswered goals, including Taylor Leier’s overtime winner with less than 35 seconds left in the extra frame.
With the loss, the Sound Tigers drifted five points behind the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
Despite three penalties against the Sound Tigers in the opening 20 minutes, both teams only traded even-strength goals for a 1-1 deadlock after one period. Lehigh Valley struck first at the 7:10 mark when Corban Knight corralled the puck at the bottom of the left circle and banked a shot off the right side of goaltender Stephon Williams from a sharp angle.
The Sound Tigers responded just 30 seconds later when Wallace notched his first AHL goal since Jan. 26, 2013. Jon Landry swung a pass from left to right at the blue line, setting up Ryan Pulock for a slap shot that Wallace redirected past netminder Anthony Stolarz at 7:40.
Bridgeport commanded the second period and built a 3-1 lead courtesy of two quick tallies from Rowe and Johnston. Rowe put Bridgeport on top with a power-play goal at the 6:47 mark. After a hooking minor was called against Samuel Morin, Carter Verhaeghe gained the Phantoms' blue line and played catch with Pulock. Following a return pass to Verhaeghe, the second-year forward slid a centering feed to the doorstep where Rowe redirected it past Stolarz’s right leg. It was his third goal in the last two days.
Johnston added his eighth goal of the season just 60 seconds later when he skated to the slot and finished Holmstrom’s centering feed from the left wing. Landry also recorded his second helper of the night at the 7:47 mark.
Lehigh Valley bounced back with two third-period goals to force overtime. Mark Zengerle cut the Phantoms’ deficit to one when he brought the puck to the left circle and fired a heavy wrist shot past defenseman Devon Toews and Williams’ glove at 9:27. It was his 13th goal of the season.
Andy Miele tied the game in the final three minutes with the Phantoms’ only power-play goal of the night. With Holmstrom in the box for boarding, Miele received a pass from T.J. Brennan, walked to the right circle and beat Williams’ blocker for his ninth tally of the season overall.
Lehigh Valley controlled most of the extra session, outshooting Bridgeport 6-1 including Leier’s game-winning goal at 4:25. Leier and Miele teamed up on an odd-man rush into the Sound Tigers’ zone before the puck tricked below the goal line on the left side. Leier caught up to it and forced a forehand shot to the crease, where it redirected across the goal line for the 4-3 final.
Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Williams (6-13-1) made 34 saves in the setback, while Stolarz (18-7-0) turned back 29 chances in Lehigh Valley’s win.
The Phantoms outshot the Sound Tigers 38-32.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers continue a six-game road trip on Wednesday with a 7:05 p.m. ET matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. Fans can also follow all of the action online via www.ahllive.com , beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. ET.
DC Comics Day: Meet your favorite Justice League and DC Comics superheroes at the Sound Tigers’ regular-season home finale on Sunday, Apr. 9 against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Two special ticket packages are available that include access to the game, concession vouchers, a drawstring bag and more! CLICK HERE for tickets and more information. Doors open at 2 p.m. and the puck drops at 3 p.m.
For additional details or to reserve seats for any of the 2016-17 giveaway and theme nights , please call the Sound Tigers’ front office at (203) 345-2300.
Executive suites and premium seat packages are also available by calling the team’s front office at (203) 345-4841. If you are interested in group outings with your friends, family, co-workers, or clients an unforgettable experience at a discounted rate, call the group sales hotline at (203) 345-2300 Ext. 7.