BRIDGEPORT, CT - Sound Tigers forward John Persson sent a deflection past Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney with 2:14 remaining in overtime to give Bridgeport a 4-3 over Springfield at Webster Bank Arena on Tuesday night. With the win, the Sound Tigers improve to 22-19-2-3. The Falcons earn a point with the overtime loss as their record moves to 28-11-4-3.
Persson’s game-winning goal in the extra session came after Springfield stormed back in the third period with two goals, capped by Tomas Kubalik’s game-tying tally with 40.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. After Persson battled to win the puck on the forecheck deep in the Springfield zone, the rookie forward found space in the slot and deflected Matt Donovan’s shot past McElhinney to give the Sound Tigers important extra point.
Springfield jumped out to the early lead just 46 seconds into the game when Ryan Johansen made a move around a Sound Tigers defenseman in the neutral zone and sent a shot from the right circle over Kevin Poulin for his 16th goal of the season.
However, the Sound Tigers dictated much of the action in the opening 20 minutes and evened the score with 8:33 left in the period. Nathan McIver took the puck away from a Falcons forward as Springfield entered the Bridgeport zone, then sent a stretch pass to Jack Combs. The St. Louis native skated in on McElhinney and fired a shot beneath his glove for his fourth goal in 12 games as a Sound Tigers to tie the game at one.
The score remained tied until the early part of the second period when the Sound Tigers’ special teams struck twice just 1:55 apart. Nino Niederreiter gave the Sound Tigers the lead with a shorthanded goal at the 4:18 mark, finishing on an open net after Brock Nelson ‘s patience moved McElhinney out of the net on 2-on-1. Matt Donovan then sent a slap shot from the point past McElhinney on the power play for his seventh goal of the season at 6:13, and the Sound Tigers took a 3-1 lead which they carried into the final period.
However, the Northeast Division-leading Falcons dominated the final 20 minutes of play and fought back to even the score. The Sound Tigers struggled to clear the puck out of their zone, and the Falcons finally converted when Nick Drazenovic snapped a shot from the slot over Poulin’s glove at 8:07 to bring Springfield within a goal. The Falcons continued to press late in the period and found the equalizer with the extra attacker at 19:19 of the third period when Kubalik’s deflection snuck over the goal line to even the score, setting the stage for Persson’s heroics.
Poulin made 32 saves to earn his 15th win of the season, while McElhinney stopped 28 shots in the loss.
The Sound Tigers return to action this Friday when they travel to Providence to open a home-and-home series with the Bruins. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
NOTES: Persson’s goal was the first overtime game-winner of his pro career, and his third GWG this season … Nathan McIver’s assist was his first point as a Sound Tiger; he had gone 34 games without a point … Matt Donovan now leads all defensemen in goals (7), both Donovan and Landry are tied for the team lead with 18 assists … Niederreiter’s goal was the first shorthanded goal of his pro career … Poulin has started nine of the Sound Tigers last 10 games … The Sound Tigers announced they have rescheduled their games against Portland and Worcester that were postponed this past weekend; the Sound Tigers will host Worcester on Tuesday, April 9 and host Portland on Tuesday, April 16 … Both games will begin at 7:00 p.m.
1. BRI: John Persson
2. BRI: Kevin Poulin
3. SPR: Tomas Kubalik
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
40 Mike Halmo – 29 Brock Nelson – 22 Nino Niederreiter
23 John Persson – 14 Matt Watkins (A) – 77 Kirill Kabanov
44 Brett Gallant – 4 Scott Campbell – 20 Blair Riley
18 Chad Costello – 5 Jack Combs – 16 Sean Backman
46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart
27 Aaron Ness – 8 Nathan McIver (A)
2 Dallas Jackson – 7 Jon Landry (A)
38 Kevin Poulin (starter)
30 Kenny Reiter