Barreling in was the forechecker, laying a hit on the Manchester defenseman, forcing a turnover, getting the puck to the Bridgeport guy on the left half-wall.
The guy on the half-wall, who beat Brandon Kozun for the puck and fired a shot (that maybe J.S. Berube’d want back, but anyway) that made it 1-0, was Mike Halmo. The bat out of hell? Ryan Strome, playing his most-physical game yet, in on all three goals.
“Sometimes you don’t get a point on the play, but you create a turnover,” Strome said. “That’s what Halmo does most of the time. I returned the favor.”
Strome scored a beauty from the right circle in the third to tie it, 81 seconds after Manchester took the lead when Bridgeport, deja vu, couldn’t clear a rebound. But it was what Strome was doing behind the enemy goal line that stood out today. He and Halmo won battles on the wall to set up Nick Larson for a beauty of his own, Larson’s third goal in 24 hours, to win it.
Pellerin talked about how Halmo has been successful when he has been battling on the boards, how Lee has brought that power game.
“When they’re having success, they’re winning most of the 50-50 pucks,” Pellerin said.
Strome talked (see gamer) about the challenge that came from the coaches to pick up the intensity level. It seemed to take in some cases better than in others, but the top line brought it.
Bridgeport played a good-enough first period, doing little on three power plays (including an extended five-on-three) but drawing momentum from the fourth. They traded goals in the second. And then the third worked out.
Two wins in three games. Seen this before after the long winless streak, but a good bounceback after that mess Saturday in Albany.
Bridgeport scored six goals Saturday in Albany; this morning, there were changes on the assists of four of them. But that included giving an assist to Kenny Reiter on the first goal. That was the first point for a Sound Tigers goalie in over two years.
After that assist, Reiter gave up eight goals on 24 shots. So what next?
“My original plan was just to take it one day at a time,” Pellerin said.
“Going into Saturday, I was going to decide after Saturday what I was going to do Sunday. I had a good talk with Kenny. I know the type of competitor he is. I knew he wanted to get back in net.”
He did, indeed. The first Manchester goal, “I was kind of in between save selections,” he said, didn’t get his leg tight to the post, but he bounced back strongly, and he said the team rallied around him.
“I needed, and the team needed me to be better. We all played for each other tonight,” Reiter said.
“I was really focused on making big, timely saves. My team needed that. (Sean Backman’s) breakaway, I played him pretty well, but otherwise, I didn’t have to make too many outstanding saves.”
This is, by my unscientific and way-too-rapid count, the 19th time a goalie has started* three games in three days for Bridgeport. Wade Dubielewicz and Kevin Poulin did it five times each (Dubielewicz, four times in 2005-06, three times after March 24 alone); Anders Nilsson, twice.
Pellerin said Kabanov’s and Wiles’ returns were kind of late decisions. They kept Kabanov, coming off illness, limited, to keep his energy level up. On Wiles, who played quite a bit: “In the morning he felt really good. I thought he skated really good,” Pellerin said. “He was one of the best skaters, with a bad leg. I wish I could skate like that with a bad leg.” Wiles was passing in the dressing room; asked how it felt, and he replied, simply, “good.”
They’re off tomorrow. Back to work Tuesday (followed by football).
*-Rick DiPietro played in three in three once before he started three in three, Jan. 25-27, 2002. He started the first and third, and came in in relief in the second: the come-from-ahead game against Worcester.