BRIDGEPORT, CT - Justin DiBenedetto netted two power play goals, including the game-winner midway through the third period, and Tony Romano tied a team record with four assists as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to come from behind to beat the Worcester Sharks 5-4 at Webster Bank Arena on Tuesday night. With the win, the Sound Tigers move into first place in the Northeast Division and improve to 34-24-3-6 overall. The Sharks fall to 28-27-4-7.
Worcester got a quick start on the road at Webster Bank Arena, netting two goals early in the game. After the Sound Tigers were unable to clear the puck from their own zone, Sharks defenseman Sena Acolatse skated his way through the Sound Tigers slot and backhanded a shot past Kevin Poulin to put Worcester ahead just 2:40 into the game.
The Sharks increased their lead to two midway through the period on the power play. Kevin Poulin made the first save on a shot from Tim Kennedy, but a clearing attempt from the crease deflected off a Sound Tiger and into the net. Kennedy was credited with the goal and the Sharks led 2-0 midway through the first period.
The Sharks increased their lead to three just 42 seconds into the second period when John McCarthy beat Poulin for his 19th tally of the season. The Sound Tigers got on the board at 2:38 of the opening period. Romano, John Persson and Blair Riley worked hard to keep the puck in the Worcester zone after an aggressive forecheck. Riley eventually possessed the puck at the top of the right circle and sent a shot past Worcester goaltender Tyson Sexmsith to make the score 3-1 Worcester. The Sharks answered just 1:40 later when Acolatse faked a shot to get Poulin out of position, skated to his left and backhanded the puck in for his second goal of the night to bring Worcester’s lead back to three.
The Sound Tigers began their comeback just 1:21 after Acolatse’s goal. Steve Oleksy made a nifty play by the right circle to avoid a check and feed the puck in front of the Worcester net to Scott Howes. The rookie forward faked a shot, then went to his backhand to beat Sexsmith for his 11th goal of the season to make the score 4-2 in favor of Worcester.
DiBenedetto’s first power play goal brought the Sound Tigers within one midway through the third period. Just as a Sound Tigers 5-on-3 expired, DiBenedetto one-timed a pass from Calvin de Haan past Sexsmith to cut the Sound Tigers deficit to just one goal. Kael Mouillierat tied the score with 7.5 seconds left in the second period. Mouillierat had his first attempt blocked in front, but gathered the puck by the goal line beneath the right circle and chipped it softly over Sexsmith to send the teams to their locker rooms tied at four.
DiBenedetto netted the game-winner midway through the third period to complete the comeback. Jon Landry fed the puck to DiBenedetto by the right post, and DiBenedetto had his initial shot blocked. However, the third-year Sound Tiger grabbed the puck and fired it over Harri Sateri, who entered in relief of Sexsmith to start the third period, as the Sound Tigers earned their first lead of the game with 8:55 left in regulation. Worcester pulled Sateri in the final minute for the extra attacker, but could not find the equalizer as the Sound Tigers came away with the come-from-behind win.
Poulin made 35 saves to earn his 19th win of the season. Sateri took the loss after coming on in relief of Sexsmith, stopping 13 of 14 shots.
The Sound Tigers continue their eight-game homestand on Friday night when they host the Springfield Falcons at 7:00 p.m.