Coming back from injury Saturday, going back-to-back, Aaron Ness took some good whacks early in Sunday’s game. There was a hard, lateish hit behind the Bridgeport net from Josh Anderson. There was a slash from Brian Gibbons. They both left him looking uncomfortable.
“It was a tough game. A lot of things going on there,” Ness said. “I’ve never really had a period like that.”
He got tangled up with a Falcon in the second period, going fairly hard into the endboards and almost, it looked like, getting a skate in the leg, which one imagines wouldn’t be fun. (He got up and blocked a Ryan Craig chance at a mostly empty net.)
So who’s there at the end with the patient play, taking it halfway around the Springfield zone, setting up Anders Lee for the game-winner?
“I was just trying to make the for-sure play,” Ness said. “Four-on-four, there’s a lot of room out there.”
They needed three power-play goals to get there, to come from behind twice, both 2-0 and, with 3:18 left, 3-2. (“A lot of teams would’ve folded their tents after that late goal,” Brent Thompson said.) They needed to shake off the three-in-three doldrums, which afflicted both teams. (“I said that too in the locker room,” one of those three-in-three-type games, Ness said. “It was pretty slow, sluggish, not a lot going on.”)
They got lots of help from Harry Zolnierczyk, helping C.J. Stretch win a big faceoff late in the second to set up Jesse Graham’s goal, making good little plays and finally getting rewarded with the tying goal. They got help from their defensemen on the power play: Ryan Pulock got himself as many shots today as he’d had in four games, including one that Stretch and Lee turned into the second goal, and Griffin Reinhart took the shot that bounced to Zolnierczyk.
But in the end the guy taking the puck to the net, then around the net, then to the halfwall, then cutting back to lose Sean Collins, then finding Lee: That was Ness, banged around more than usual but there at the end.
“You know what you’re going to get from him every single night,” Thompson said. “He puts his heart on his sleeve.”
At the end of the weekend: “I feel pretty good,” Ness said. “Our trainers did a great job getting me back, rehab and stuff. They’re first-class.”
Zolnierczyk, who had three chances short-handed on the same minor against St. John’s on opening night, had a couple of really good short-handed chances in the third tonight, including a post. “Chances are good. I’d like to finish one of those,” Zolnierczyk said. “Maybe the guy got a little bit lucky off the knob there. If I keep getting chances, it’s great. I’ve got to keep building on that.”
Thompson had lots of praise. He ran down the leadership group, the guys with the letters, some of the guys without. Lee “played like a man tonight,” an edgy game. “Brett Gallant, sacrificing, two fights, showing his passion and the belief he has in our team.”
I’d just tweeted that John Persson hadn’t played in the third when… Persson played in the third, about 14 minutes in. Thompson confirmed there was nothing going on there, just happenstance in a third period where there wasn’t a ton of five-on-five.
Anton Forsberg got called up after the game from Springfield.
Peter Mannino to Toledo.
Double shutout in Toronto. Almost a double shutout in Hartford, but Casey Wellman scored a power-play goal with 1.5 seconds left in overtime. Nothing resembling a double shutout in Providence; more like the power-play numbers here.
And the first season of “Manhattan” ends tonight on a channel I didn’t know I had (owe that to Alan Sepinwall). It’s well worth your catch-up time, as the link will tell you.
Team’s off tomorrow. Some notes possible tomorrow, but more from practice Tuesday.