It might not have been to the “at some point you gotta do something” stage, but Bridgeport hasn’t broken out scoring much, it has only one win in two months without scoring three goals, and after it barely scored one Friday in Springfield, Brent Thompson just wanted to try something to generate offense.
Splitting Joe Whitney and Bracken Kearns for the first time yielded three regulation-time goals and one more in OT, with a point for one of them on all of them, and it’s not that you can specifically attribute any of the four to that, but it’s something different.
“It was a little different, but we haven’t been scoring too many goals the last couple of weeks,” Whitney said. “It’s a good change. We’re so close in that room, we can play with any guy in there and feel comfortable.”
Whitney and Wright stuck together in overtime with Ryan Pulock, and they produced the game-winner. Coincidentally, Whitney was still on the ice when Kearns hopped off the bench to replace James Wright on a change, picked off a pass and dropped it to Taylor Beck for the go-ahead goal late in the third.
“I think (change) is healthy for any team,” Kearns said. “I like playing with Whit, but I also like playing with Becker. It’s healthy for a team sometimes to change things up.”
Still too many turnovers, some at bad times, but the penalty kill was good — the Amerks’ power-play goal came as a five-on-three expired, and doubt Bridgeport liked the way that faceoff was conducted — on seven tries, including one in the last five minutes, on which Parker Milner was sharp (“We talk about timely penalty kills,” Thompson said. “We got a very good penalty kill there”).
“We’re trying to take pride in special teams, and obviously the penalty kill is huge,” Matt Carkner said. “For the most part we did a good job getting pucks out.”
Like Kearns did up the left wing in the second period. Scott Mayfield joined him and drove down the middle. And then there was Carkner on the right side, looking for the cross-ice pass that turned into a short-handed goals.
“It was great having both defensemen up with me,” Kearns said. “It’s huge. I don’t think we do that enough. If there’s an opportunity, it doesn’t matter if you’re a defenseman, a forward, we need guys jumping.
“I was ready to backcheck.”
Wasn’t necessary. And it helped get another win.
“I appreciated my BC teammate Joe getting one for me in overtime,” Milner said. He has 50 saves this weekend on 53 shots. “I thought he gave us a solid game,” Thompson said. “He made the first save. One of the goals was extremely lucky.” That Justin Bailey shot to tie it in the third took a wicked hop, and there’s a line from Milner in the gamer about it, but he shook it off.
Unsolicited Kyle Burroughs pop from Kearns. The kid has fit in nicely, and he got the second-unit-PK treatment tonight.
There was much else to discuss afterward, so didn’t get into a few changes in the power play, which was 0-for-3 (though one lasted just 21 seconds before another penalty) to run the drought to 0-for-23. Sebastian Collberg moved back to the top unit, with Pulock, Whitney, Kearns and Wright. Mayfield got a look on the second unit with Matt Finn, Mike Halmo, Justin Vaive and Beck.
Prescout. The Bears trailed 5-1 late in the second but won 6-5 in overtime. Milestone for Dan Ellis in relief, too. Aaron Ness made his Washington debut tonight; 15 shifts, blocked a couple of shots, plus-1.
Tampa Bay sent Jonathan Drouin down to Syracuse.
Jay Leach will be coaching the Atlantic Division all-stars in Syracuse.
Missouri was down 3-1 in Evansville tonight with 10 minutes left. And won. That’s seven in a row again; the Mavericks are 25-3-0-1. A goal and an assist and first-star honors for Carter Verhaeghe.
The United States moved along to the semis at the World Juniors with a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic. It gets Russia on Monday at 1. Sweden faces Finland in the other semi; the Finns came back to knock out Canada.
And if no other good comes from John Scott’s being voted to the NHL All-Star Game — honestly, it’s an all-star game; have a little fun — it gave us this tweet:
Fans-I was afraid,that 3on3 all-Star game may kill me,now,I am more afraid,fighting John Scott 6,8 300 during All-Star, kill me for sure
— Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) January 2, 2016