You thought about it for a minute, right? Sometime in the first 24 minutes, or probably most specifically the 12th through the 24th, you wondered what this series might look like if Bridgeport could keep the puck in the Toronto end, could maybe break through on one of these power plays, could…
Ah. Turnover. Penalty. Puck in the back of the net.
Not the kind of team you can just hand those. They kept coming from there. No controversy tonight, but another Game 1 that could’ve been different. Or then again, maybe this Toronto team would have found another way not to let it be different.
“They’re a very opportunistic team,” Justin Florek said. “We’ve got to tighten up our game. For the most part, we played a pretty good game.”
Brent Thompson said they’ve got to play a simple game, and it stopped being simple in the second. Turnovers, failed clears and two huge goals coming out of the Toronto zone in the final seconds of the period.
“We’d like to take a mulligan on those,” Kevin Czuczman said. “We can’t afford those mistakes in playoff hockey. We can’t afford them anytime.
“We have to put it behind us. Maybe next time it’s us scoring two at the end of the second period.”
Maybe. Maybe the Marlies just keep coming. They’re that kind of team. But that first period has to give them some confidence that coming back from this is doable.
“We spotted them a lead. It’s a best-of-5,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to respond (Sunday).”
One win in the past 13 home playoff games. At least Florek’s goal ended a 152-minute, 59-second scoreless streak on this ice.
Not an easy team to match up with, but the Sound Tigers had a lot of Ben Holmstrom’s line against Mark Arcobello’s line, and a bit of Bracken Kearns’ line against William Nylander’s. Nylander’s goal, a bullet wrister from the left point through Sam Carrick’s screen, came to end a long shift for three of the five Bridgeport guys on the ice, including the defensemen.
Justin Bourne and Scott Pellerin both in the house. Building’s a little brighter. Also visiting were Adam Pelech and Christopher Gibson.
Game 1: Toronto 4, Bridgeport 1
Game 2: Sunday at Bridgeport, 5 p.m.
Game 3: Thursday at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4*: Friday at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5*: Sunday, May 1, at Toronto, 3 p.m.
Around the league tonight: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished off Providence in three straight overtime games; Jake Guentzel polished off this one, sent in alone from the top of the circles by Tom Kostopoulos, in double overtime. In Albany, the Devils got a big goal short-handed to make it 3-1 after Jim O’Brien’s left skate clipped Utica goalie Richard Bachman’s left skate and took him down; Reid Boucher chipped it in just as Bachman recovered. The Devils went on to a 5-1 win and apparently have an M.O. as well as a 2-0 series lead. Lake Erie won — that’s right, won! — a series for the first time in the AHL — the franchise was the Utah Grizzlies, and in the IHL, the last time — sweeping Rockford and leaving the longest drought in the AHL, 13 years and six lost series, to Bridgeport. Riley Barber broke a tie early in the third period, and Hershey tied Portland at 1. Grand Rapids has a 2-0 lead on Milwaukee; Tyler Bertuzzi has three goals. Texas beat San Diego handily — a goal and second star for Matt Mangene — to even that series. Still going at this writing: Game 2 of Ontario-San Jose, early on.
Quick turnaround for Game 2. See you in about 18 hours.