Denied, vindicated: a shutout in Hartford

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Scott Pellerin’s been doing this game a while, and he said the Dov Grumet-Morris stop on Mike Halmo in the second — seriously, remind me to find you some video — was one of the best he’s ever seen, keeping this thing scoreless halfway home.

But Bridgeport kept slugging.

It did that early on, trading chances. It did that on the penalty kill, blocking shots and getting great saves from Anders Nilsson in his fourth North American shutout. And finally, when it got a chance, it did that on the power play. The Sound Tigers put a few more shots on Grumet-Morris.

Then a couple of minutes later, on yet another power play, Dallas Jackson tracked the puck down in the right corner. He got it to Anders Lee in the right circle. Lee took his time and had Halmo wide open at the back door.

“Anders made a great pass. Was probably the easiest goal I ever scored,” Halmo said.

Nilsson didn’t allow a thing, even if his stops weren’t the jaw-droppers. He was just in control, keeping Hartford winless in eight and shut out for the sixth time in 14 games.

Both Pellerin and Nilsson have talked about needing consistency. Pellerin said he got on Nilsson in the morning skate. Nilsson wasn’t going there: It’s in the past, he said. And so, he said later, really, is this one.

“It’s good to get a win. It’s always nice to get a shutout, a little bonus,” Nilsson said.

“I put it as in the past and focus on the next one. … We can’t enjoy this. Now we have to focus on the game tomorrow.”

The delay-of-game minor helped give Hartford the first four power plays. Bridgeport held the fort, led by Nilsson.

“We got good reps on the penalty kill,” Pellerin said. “The guys were blocking shots. Our forecheck was coming.

“And we had to have goaltending.”

Check. Nilsson was there, giving them time.

“We started off a little slow, a little hesitant at first,” Halmo said. “As the game went on, we started bearing down.”

….

Persson’s absence: just conditioning at this point; been out all but two games in quite a while, after all. “We just want to make sure, when he does come back, he plays well,” Pellerin said.

Fourth Bridgeport shutout in this building; the last was 358 days ago.

Ryan Strome had his first NHL point in the Islanders’ win tonight over the Rangers. Good organizational night. Or a bad one for the Rangers. Or both.

Hope the moron who whipped what looked like a program or the like halfway down the stairs is proud. (I say that as if he’s sober by now. At least hope he’s stopped running and giggling.)

Prescout. No Sean Backman tonight, but his Yale buddy Brian O’Neill, who’d missed the past 14 games injured, came back with two goals and two assists. (O’Neill’s got nine points in his past five games, actually. That they date back to Nov. 2 is technically immaterial.)

Let’s all go to Hershey tomorrow instead for Joel Rechlicz Bobblefist Night.

Or we could stay home and watch a tape of tonight’s USA-Canada women’s hockey game. Or just the end, over and over.

The assault case against Semyon Varlamov was dropped, USA Today reports.

And finally: Me too.

Michael Fornabaio

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