BRIDGEPORT, April 6 – The Whale left goalie Cam Talbot on his own Saturday night at the Webster Bank Arena against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. And Talbot stood tall to help Connecticut earn a key 3-2 decision.
Bridgeport outshot the Whale, 40-20 and had a 14-3 advantage with shots on goal in the third period. But Talbot refused to yield as he won his 25th game of the season.
“I was seeing pucks pretty well from the first period on and just trying to knock some of those ones down in the third period when they were getting traffic in front,” Talbot said. “I didn’t really control the rebounds too well in the third period, they were all over me, but the guys did a great job of helping out and battling down low, and it was a big win for us.”
Connecticut continues to keep its hands firmly on a playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. The Whale (35-27-5-3) are three points ahead of Hershey and Norwalk, who are tied for eighth place with 75 points. The top eight teams in the East earn a playoff spot.
The Whale have just six games remaining in the regular season and five of them are on the road. Connecticut hosts its final regular season home game on Sunday at 3 p.m. against Providence at the XL Center.
The game was tied at 2-2 when Brandon Segal scored with 1:54 gone in the third period for his team-leading 24th goal of the season. Chris Kreider deflected Sean Collins’ feed from the right point to Segal all alone in front of the goal, and Segal beat former New York Islander goalie Rick DiPietro to the stick side.
Segal has scored in six straight games – the longest such streak in team history since Ryan Callahan scored in eight straight games in November and December of 2006.
Once Segal got Connecticut the lead, it was up to Talbot to do the rest.
Most of the remainder of the contest was played in the Whale end. Talbot made 14 saves in the third period. Bridgeport had an apparent goal disallowed with 9:37 remaining when when referee Chris Ciamaga ruled that Sound Tiger John Persson had pushed Connecticut’s Brandon Mashinter into Talbot and called Persson for goaltender interference.
Talbot, 25, made a season-high 38 saves in the game. It wasn’t an unusual performance for the 6-foot-3 keeper. Two other times this year, he made 37 saves in wins over Providence and St. John’s.
The Whale also got goals from Benn Ferriero and Ryan Bourque. Matt Donovan and Brock Nelson scored for Bridgeport.
The Whale scored the only goal of the first period, on the game’s first power play. Mike Vernace sent a lead pass up right wing to Ferriero, who put on a burst of speed and got around Sound Tiger defender Aaron Ness. Ferriero tried to center the puck to Mashinter, but it ended up going on goal, and Mashinter distracted DiPietro (17 saves) enough that the puck trickled into the net.
Bridgeport and Connecticut scored three goals in 2:10 in the second period. Donovan tied the score at 1-1 with his 13th goal of the season. Brandon DeFazio worked the puck out of the right-wing corner to an unchecked Donovan sneaking down from the right point, and Donovan just snuck a shot past Talbot’s stick side.
Bourque restored the Whale lead only 59 seconds later, at 11:26, snapping a shot just under the crossbar past DiPietro’s catching glove, after Bourque’s linemates Kyle Jean and Kelsey Tessier combined to dig the puck out from behind the net.
That lead lasted only 1:11, however, as the Bridgeport power play clicked on its first opportunity of the game at 12:37 to tie the game at 2-2.
Reports from the Connecticut Whale and AHL.com used to compile this report.
Connecticut 3, Bridgeport 2
Connecticut 1 1 1 – 3
Bridgeport 0 2 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Ferriero 7 (Vernace), 12:40 (PP). Penalties-Donovan Bri (interference), 10:53.
2nd Period-2, Bridgeport, Donovan 13 (DeFazio, Campbell), 10:27. 3, Connecticut, Bourque 8 (Tessier, Jean), 11:26. 4, Bridgeport, Nelson 22 (Diamond, Niederreiter), 12:37 (PP). Penalties-Haley Ct (fighting), 9:57; McIver Bri (fighting), 9:57; Bickel Ct (holding), 12:10; Newbury Ct (fighting), 15:12; Diamond Bri (fighting), 15:12.
3rd Period-5, Connecticut, Segal 24 (Kreider, Collins), 1:54. Penalties-Persson Bri (interference), 9:37; Tessier Ct (tripping), 14:55.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 10-7-3-20. Bridgeport 13-13-14-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 2; Bridgeport 1 / 2.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 25-24-1 (40 shots-38 saves). Bridgeport, DiPietro 7-6-0 (20 shots-17 saves).