HARTFORD, CT - John Persson’s power play goal midway through the third period tied the game at four, and Greenwich native Sean Backman backhanded a rebound past Whale goaltender Cam Talbot 1:57 into overtime to give the Bridgeport Sound Tigers a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Connecticut Whale at XL Center on Friday night. With the win, the Sound Tigers improve to 20-19-2-3 overall. The Whale’s record moves to 20-20-4-1 with the overtime loss.
Backman’s heroics came on a broken play after the Sound Tigers zone entry was interrupted. The puck hopped onto Persson’s stick and his initial shot from the point was knocked into the air by Talbot. However, Backman backhanded the puck mid-air past Talbot for his fifth goal of the season to snap the Sound Tigers’ four-game winless streak and earn a comeback win over their in-state rival.
The Whale led the game on three separate occasions and struck first with two goals early in the first period. J.T. Miller created a turnover behind the net and found Kelsey Tessier in front, who snapped a shot past Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin to give the Whale a 1-0 lead just 38 seconds into the game. Brandon Segal increased the Whale’s lead to two at 5:41, firing a shot from the right half-wall that snuck past Poulin’s glove.
The Sound Tigers responded exactly two minutes later to cut their deficit in half. Kirill Kabanov kept the puck in the zone and found Matt Donovan at the top of the right circle. Donovan spun and fired towards the net, and Matt Watkins deflected the feed past Whale goaltender Cam Talbot for his eighth goal of the season to cut the Whale lead to 2-1.
Blair Riley evened the score 22 seconds into the second period. Ty Wishart sent a shot from the right point through traffic and Riley’s deflection beat Talbot for his fifth goal of the season to make the score 2-2. The seesaw battle continued as the Whale retook the lead at 7:24 of the middle frame. After Marc Cantin was called for high-sticking, Micheal Haley caught the Sound Tigers on a line change, broke in on Poulin and fired over his shoulder to put the Whale ahead 3-2.
Jack Combs would knot the score for the Sound Tigers with 4:11 left in the second period. Brock Nelson stole the puck behind the Whale net and fed Combs in front, who put his own rebound in for his third goal of the season to tie the game at three.
However, Nino Niederreiter was called for too many men on the ice with 42 seconds left in the period when he jumped on for a change and touched the puck before Riley came off the ice, and the Whale capitalized on the ensuing power play. After Poulin had made a pair of acrobatic saves down low, the puck cycled around the point to Blake Parlett, who one-timed a shot from the left circle to beat Poulin to give the Whale a 4-3 lead at 19:34 of the middle period.
The Sound Tigers dominated the action in the third period, outshooting the Whale 18-7 and scoring the game-tying goal on the power play 7:10 into the final frame. Aaron Ness’ point shot was stopped by Talbot, but Persson roofed the loose puck for his 15th goal of the year to bring Bridgeport even again and set the stage for Backman’s game-winner.
The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow evening when they host the Norfolk Admirals at Webster Bank Arena at 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: Friday’s win was the first time the Sound Tigers had won when trailing after two periods; they were 0-15-0-1 … Persson and Backman each recorded a goal and an assist, and Ty Wishart followed Thursday night’s two-goal performance with two assists … Poulin made 32 saves to earn the win … The Sound Tigers were 1-for-2 on the power play, the Whale went 2-for-4 … 11 different Sound Tigers recorded at least one point.
1. BRI: Sean Backman
2. CTW: J.T. Miller
3. BRI: Ty Wishart
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
40 Mike Halmo – 29 Brock Nelson – 22 Nino Niederreiter
23 John Persson – 14 Matt Watkins (A) – 77 Kirill Kabanov
42 Brandon DeFazio – 4 Scott Campbell – 20 Blair Riley
18 Chad Costello – 5 Jack Combs – 16 Sean Backman
46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart
15 Marc Cantin – 7 Jon Landry (A)
27 Aaron Ness – 8 Nathan McIver (A)
38 Kevin Ploulin (starter)
45 Anders Nilsson