BRIDGEPORT, CT - Rhett Rakhshani scored the game-winning power play goal with 5:35 left in the third period as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-2 at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Sound Tigers close the 2011-12 regular season with a record of 41-26-3-6, including an impressive 25-9-2-2 mark at home. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finishes the regular season at 44-25-2-5 with the loss.
The Sound Tigers and Penguins faced each other for the second time in less than 24 hours, with the Penguins taking the first game of the home-and-home series by a 3-2 score in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night. The two sides were both playing their third game in three days and neither team mustered much offense in the opening frame. Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton combined for 15 shots, but Kevin Poulin and Scott Munroe were rarely tested between the pipes and the teams finished the first period scoreless.
The Penguins took advantage of a Sound Tigers miscue in their own zone for the game’s first goal. Defenseman Mark Katic had the puck hop over his stick, and Penguins forward Brandon DeFazio grabbed the loose puck in the slot. DeFazio sent the puck over Poulin’s right shoulder for his 11th goal of the season, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton led 1-0 2:35 into the second period.
The Sound Tigers tied the score less than four minutes later. Steve Oleksy sent a low drive from the top of the slot that Tyler McNeely deflected past Munroe for his second goal in two games and ninth tally of the season to even the score at one. The Sound Tigers took the lead with 6:05 left in the middle frame. Aaron Ness sent a shot towards the net from the top of the left circle that was knocked down in traffic, but Tomas Marcinko spun around and put the rebound in for his eighth goal of the season to put the Sound Tigers ahead 2-1.
Bryan Lerg brought the Penguins even 4:45 into the final period. Poulin made an initial save from point blank range on Paul Thompson, but Lerg buried the rebound for his 27th goal of the season to tie the game at two. Rakhshani’s power play tally at 14:25 put the Sound Tigers ahead for good. The second-year Sound Tiger one-timed Matt Donovan’s pass from the bottom of the left circle through Munroe for his 20th goal of the season.
Poulin made 31 saves to earn his 26th win of the season. Munroe made 25 saves in the loss.
The Sound Tigers open up their best-of-five Calder Cup Playoff series against the Connecticut Whale on Thursday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena. Game 2 will also take place at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office or at ticketmaster.com.