ALBANY, NY - Sound Tigers forward Sean Backman scored the game-winner with 4:24 left in regulation and added an empty-net goal, while Rick DiPietro made 25 saves as the Bridgeport erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Albany Devils 4-2 at the Times Union Center on Friday night. With the win, the Sound Tigers improve to 24-24-5-4. Albany moves to 24-20-1-10 with the loss.
The Sound Tigers penalty kill was put to work early on and denied the Devils on two power play opportunities in the first six minutes of regulation, but Albany scored at even strength 12:47 into the opening period to take the lead. Joe Whitney snuck behind the Sound Tigers defense, stood alone in front of DiPietro and deflected Jay Leach’s point shot past the Sound Tigers goaltender for his team-leading 18th goal of the season to give Albany a 1-0 lead.
The Devils added to their lead just 56 seconds into the second period. Harri Pesonen stole a pass at the Devils blue line, was held up by Matt Donovan on a partial breakway and awarded a penalty shot. Pesonen skated in slowly on DiPietro and fired a slap shot off of DiPietro’s pads and through his legs to give Albany a two-goal advantage.
Penalties to Albany’s Scott Parse and Mike Sislo gave the Sound Tigers an extended 5-on-3 power play later in the middle period, and Bridgeport converted to begin its comeback. Nino Niederreiter camped in front of Albany goaltender Keith Kinkaid and deflected Donovan’s point shot into the net for his team-leading 24th goal of the season at the 7:35 mark of the second period.
A strong individual effort from Aaron Ness tied the game less than five minutes later. Ness took a pass at the left point of the Albany zone, cut into the slot and sent a backhand shot on net that was initially stopped by Kinkaid. However, the third-year Sound Tiger followed his rebound and put it past Kinkaid for his third goal of the season to tie the game at two.
Both teams had opportunities in the third period, but Backman capitalized late in the final frame to give the Sound Tigers a lead they would not relinquish. Backman came out of his own zone on a 3-on-2 rush, skated into the right circle and sent a shot past Kinkaid’s glove for his eighth goal of the season to give the Sound Tigers a 3-2 lead. Albany pulled Kinkaid in favor of the extra attacker, and DiPietro made a pair of big saves through traffic in the slot in the final minute before Backman poked the puck away from a Devils defenseman and into the empty net to clinch the victory.
DiPietro improves to 2-2-0 with his 25-save performance, while Kinkaid made 26 saves in the loss.
The Sound Tigers return to action next Tuesday when they return to Webster Bank Arena to face the Springfield Falcons at 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: Johan Sundstrom returned to the lineup after missing the Sound Tigers’ past 17 games with an upper-body injury … John Persson and Ty Wishart also returned to the lineup after missing the past two games … Niederreiter’s power play goal snapped the Sound Tigers 0-for-41 stretch on the man-advantage; the Sound Tigers were 1-for-5 on the power play, Albany went 0-for-2 … Backman registered three points (2g/1a) in the win … It was the Sound Tigers third win when trailing after one period on the road; Bridgeport was 2-12-0-0 when trailing after one period on the road heading into the game.
1. BRI: Sean Backman
2. BRI: Aaron Ness
3. ALB: Harri Pesonen
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
22 Nino Niederreiter – 29 Brock Nelson – 77 Kirill Kabanov
40 Mike Halmo – 14 Matt Watkins (C) – 16 Sean Backman
42 Brandon DeFazio – 4 Scott Campbell – 20 Blair Riley (A)
23 John Persson – 28 Johan Sundstrom – 32 Adam Huxley
46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart (A)
27 Aaron Ness – 7 Jon Landry
2 Dallas Jackson – 8 Nathan McIver
39 Rick DiPietro (starter)
30 Kenny Reiter