Steve Regier knew where I was going at the end of the night. He even remembered that it was the franchise’s first shootout.
“You’ve been involved in a few of these,” I said, actually thinking he might have even been on for Sean Bergenheim’s with 1.0 left (he wasn’t).
Regier went right to Dec. 22, 2004. “When we scored that goal,” said the man who’s played more games than anyone else with that cat on his shirt, “I had a bit of a flashback to that game.”
It’s where he went next that cut right to the chase through the nostalgia: They needed two points, and they got them.
“Last year, we missed the playoffs by a measly couple of points,” Regier said. “That’s the key, in a game like tonight, to get the win was huge.”
It is truly the kind of night where you shake your head. Repeatedly. Defensemen struggle with the puck in front of the net, leading to scoring chances and plays like Bridgeport’s second goal. Defensemen deal with kooky bounces, like Philadelphia’s second goal, where the puck goes off Ford as Morrison tries to corral it, then goes off Fata and in as Morrison tries not to corral it and mess Fata up.
And then comes the end, where Fata goes a little too far against Triston Grant, and winds up in the box, and there are 64 seconds to the all-star break, and even when you pull Morrison it’s only even, and here comes Regier, and here’s a cross-ice pass, and hokey smokes what the heck just happened here?
(How about the biggest crowd of the year seeing this? Hasn’t it always been that the big crowds see the 1-0 games where the first goal gets scored before they get here, or the small crowds see the biggest turning-point win in team history? Good crowd luck, for once. Anyway.)
And then it goes to overtime, where Regier blocks some shots, and the Sound Tigers move the puck after the penalty kill, and then Morrison makes a huge, redemptive save.
And then the shootout, where the niftiest thing didn’t work. (Imagine if Kyle Okposo’s little pull-back, toe-drag, deke forehand to backhand hadn’t hit the knob of Boucher’s stick? Imagine if it’d gone in? To end the game? Shea Stadium all over again.) But Frans Nielsen’s and Trevor Smith’s had worked.
They’re over points-.500. Yes, they’re 6-0 in shootouts, but this isn’t the moment to harp on that.
This is the moment to shake your head. What the heck just happened here?
F: Tambellini (A)-Nielsen-Okposo
F: Tolpeko-Potulny (A)-Laliberte
D: Picard-Gauthier (C)
The bad news is Dustin Kohn apparently has a separated shoulder after he took that first-period hit from David Laliberte. They’ll evaluate it this week.
Wilkes-Barre and Albany won, and Hershey beat Binghamton, so the Sound Tigers are in the weird situation of being in sixth, seven points out of second. And seven points out of third. And seven points out of fourth. It’s a lot of leapfrogging, but it’s 3.5 games with 34 games to play: possible.
Sending Comeau and Jackman down for the break, the Islanders saved a few bucks on the salary cap. (See here for joke.)
A stat discarded from tomorrow’s feature: Of the 198 skaters ever to play for the Sound Tigers, 40 have scored 32 or more points in their Bridgeport careers. Jeff Tambellini has scored 32 since mid-December alone. And a quote discarded, only ’cause the story was running long: “(Tambellini’s) conditioning level is phenomenal,” Capuano said. “He takes a lot of pride in the way he handles himself, whether it’s with the media, with the community, with his teammates. There’s no phony in him at all.”
The changeover crew is chuck-a-pucking leftover chuck-a-pucks. At each other. It’s kind of fun to watch.
Didn’t see it online, but a press release from our man Bob Crawford announced Andrew Hutchinson as Hartford’s third captain.
Kris Beech is rotating through the NHL, one team per day.
The NHL announces opening-week games in Europe… Without the NHLPA’s approval. What a partnership.
First All-Star Game the blog will attend. No idea what I’m gonna do with it (if you’ve one — an idea, not a blog — let me know), but I’ll be checking in.