SPRINGFIELD, MA - Springfield forward Nick Drazenovic’s early third-period power play goal that deflected off of a Bridgeport defenseman turned out to be the game-winner, as the Falcons defeated the Sound Tigers 5-4 at the MassMutual Center on Friday night. With the win, the Falcons improve to 18-8-2-3. The loss snaps the Sound Tigers’ four-game winning streak as they fall to 17-13-1-2.
The Sound Tigers scored early in a wild first period that saw six total goals scored between the two sides. Matt Donovan began the scoring, sending a one-time blast from the point past Springfield goaltender Curtis McElhinney 2:25 into the game for his fifth goal of the year.
Springfield netted two quick goals to take the lead soon after Donovan’s tally. The Sound Tigers struggled to clear their own zone, and Michael Chaput eventually created room in the slot and fired over Kevin Poulin’s right shoulder knot the score at one 5:47 into the first period. The Falcons took the lead 2:33 later, when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault fired a rebound from Tim Erixon’s wide point shot into an open net for his ninth goal of the year.
The seesaw action continued and the Sound Tigers tied the game just 28 seconds later on the power play, when Nino Niederreiter deflected Donovan’s point shot for his team-leading 17th goal of the season. However, Springfield would score twice more in the period to carry a two-goal lead into the first intermission.
Ryan Russell stole the puck at center ice in front of the Sound Tigers bench, skated in on a 2-on-1 and beat Poulin at 11:02 of the period to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead. Springfield doubled its lead with just 2.9 seconds remaining in the opening frame, when Ryan Craig tapped a rebound past Poulin on a Falcons’ power play, and Springfield led 4-2 after 20 minutes.
The two teams combined for just nine shots in the second period, and the Sound Tigers scored the only goal of the middle frame to draw within one. Jordan Hill sent a shot from the point wide of the Springfield net, but John Persson gathered the rebound and beat McElhinney for his first of two goals in the game to cut Springfield lead to one.
An unlucky bounce provided the Falcons with a two-goal cushion and the eventual game-winning goal. The Falcons found themselves on the power play after Jon Landry’s roughing penalty, and Nick Drazenovic fired a wrist shot that deflected off of a Sound Tiger and knuckled over Poulin’s right shoulder 2:39 into the final period to make the score 5-3.
Persson brought the Sound Tigers within a goal once more with 4:33 left in regulation, sending a wrist shot from the high slot through Colin McDonald’s screen past McElhinney for his 12th goal of the year. Brandon DeFazio was taken down on a breakaway by Theo Ruth, but earned only a two-minute power play for tripping instead of a penalty shot. The Sound Tigers were unable to convert on the man-advantage, and could not find the equalizer in the final moments as Springfield held on for the win.
Poulin made 27 saves in defeat, his first regulation loss since Nov. 24. McElhinney stopped 16 shots to earn his league-leading 16th win of the season.
The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow evening when they travel to the Cumberland County Civic Center to face the Portland Pirates at 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: Craig’s power play goal was the first power play goal the Sound Tigers had allowed after killing 26 straight disadvantages … Springfield was 2-for-3 on the power play, while the Sound Tigers went 1-for-5 … Persson’s two goals give him 12 for the season, second on the team behind Nino Niederreiter (17) … The Sound Tigers have now scored a goal in the first 2:30 of the game in five straight contests.
1. SPR: Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
2. SPR: Michael Chaput
3. BRI: John Persson
BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS
23 John Persson – 11 Casey Cizikas (A) – 13 Colin McDonald (C)
24 David Ullstrom – 28 Johan Sundstrom – 22 Nino Niederreiter
42 Brandon DeFazio – 14 Matt Watkins (A) – 20 Blair Riley
5 Jack Combs – 18 Chad Costello – 16 Sean Backman
46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart
27 Aaron Ness – 8 Nathan McIver
25 Jordan Hill – 7 Jon Landry
38 Kevin Poulin (starter)
45 Anders Nilsson