It seems so simple. Traffic in front. Shots to the net.
“You get to certain points like this, we had to simplify,” Scott Pellerin said.
Three power-play goals and a break later, Bridgeport went into the break with — for the first time in five tries this year — a win over Albany.
Zonked down the middle and then losing Kirill Kabanov in the second (he blocked a Vincent LoVerde shot Saturday and was feeling it tonight), they reconfigured things on the power play. They united John Persson (back at last), Anders Lee (in the middle) and Mike Halmo (passed his concussion test after that hit from behind); the payoff was a power-play deflection and a solid line at even strength. Justin Johnson got time on the power play (“he was joking around,” Pellerin said; “he called it ‘PP3′); he wreaked havoc in front, which helped Alan Quine take the puck to the net from the right side and score in the second. Lee and Persson were in front for Halmo’s goal on the Rod Pelley major.
“We had a lot of chances. Some shifts weren’t so good,” Halmo said. “We needed to up our battle level, and I think we did that.”
Handed 11 chances, after getting down on a chip-out partial breakaway and then again on a short-handed goal (yes, SHG No. 9, but drop passes to nowhere will hurt you at even strength, too), they needed the power play to work.
They’re still a young team; they’re still going to have their moments, their nights. But they’ve made some progress. They’re competing; Pellerin talked about pushing the team hard in practice, but the players pushing each other hard as well.
They’ve faced adversity, seen some wacky stuff happen this weekend, and they’ve played through it and picked up four points out of six, six out of 10.
“It was a crazy weekend,” Dallas Jackson said. “On the whole we played very well this weekend.
“I think we brought a lot of intensity.”
Oh, yeah, and Jackson got a shot on net with a minute and a half left. Merry Christmas.
Jackson’s redemption leads the gamer.
Doug Holewa was not happy with my Twitter account for running down the penalty-kill’s streak as it went on Sunday. The run ended at 26 in a row, tied for fifth in team history; with the time on the 27th chance, it ended at 43 minutes, 18 seconds, including 3:37 of five-on-three. “We made some good adjustments, and Doug Holewa has done a great job implementing those changes and really teaching those changes,” Pellerin said. “The guys have responded. It starts with everyone, from the goaltender out, the defense and forwards, everyone working together and blocking some shots. We’ve had some success.” (That 0-for-28 for everyone but Albany stat from earlier stands, obviously.)
Albany came perilously close to Bridgeport’s record for fewest shots allowed, 14, Feb. 27, 2011. The Devils got to 14 relatively early, and fortunately shots records and special-teams records aren’t that far apart in my file, because once Seth Helgeson boarded Brett Gallant for power play No. 11, they were a little bit of chaos away from 14 power plays and a different record. Not to be tonight.
The only addition to that file tonight: Bridgeport’s fourth broken-stick penalty. Beautiful. There’d been three for Bridgeport in four seasons, but then none since Chris Lee, five years, a month and four days ago.
Aw, yeah, that’s the break, y’all. Guys were getting out of town quickly in some cases. Smart move. Unless news warrants, probably not much here until Thursday. Have fun.