So what was the mood on the bench?
“We just said what could be better, and keep going,” Otto Koivula said.
(well Jeremy Smith and Josh Ho-Sang and well)
fourth line, that’s who. Down 2-0, Bridgeport got a few tremendous shifts from Koivula, Jeff Kubiak and Stephen Gionta to get them a lead by the end of one.
“It was a 2-2 game, and a great play by Jeff Kubiak and Kovy,” said Ho-Sang. “Kovy’s stepped up the past two games. When guys like that are stepping up, it makes it easier for everyone.”
They’ve had a couple of good games together, Koivula and Kubiak, with a veteran on the other side, whether Ryan Bourque the other day or Gionta this morning.
“I think we just really worked hard together. We were chipping pucks in, finishing our checks. We were finding each other,” Kubiak said.
Koivula found him a couple of times; Kubiak went 1-for-2. But forget the points, Kubiak has become a reliable asset for them, getting penalty-kill time lately. He said he feels more confident the more experience he’s getting.
“That’s what you do, take advantage of opportunities you’re given,” Brent Thompson said. “He’s a big body. He protects the puck well. And he’s defensively responsible. That’s what I like. He’s one of those guys who’s improved his pace of play a little more. He needs to continue to do that.”
And Koivula is settling in well.
“He looks better and better every game,” Kubiak said. “You see all the talents that he has, a big body. He’s tough to play against. He made two really good passes to me. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the first one, but luckily he saw me (the second time).”
Koivula was at the back door to take Sebastian Aho’s pass on the Sound Tigers’ second delayed-penalty, extra-attacker goal in two games.
“It’s always nice to score,” he said with a grin. ” It’s the best thing out there, to score.”
So, wait, who’d I say sparked it? Not long after the short-handed goal on a two-on-none (John Quenneville knocked Mitch Vande Sompel off it, neither Chris Bourque and Ho-Sang found it, and Quenneville and Blake Pietila had a catch), Bridgeport couldn’t keep the puck in the zone, and here came the Devils two-on-one. The pass came across right-to-left to Brandon Baddock. Jeremy Smith went across left-to-right to rob him.
“Smitty made a huge save that’s, to me, probably a huge turning point,” Thompson said. “There’s life. Everybody’s cheering for him.”
Smith, in the third period, took a shot flush to the forehead. It dented his helmet and left him with a cut above his right eye. He came back in, though, after getting a new helmet and repairs to himself.
So, wait, who’d I say (this is getting old, I’m sure)
Ho-Sang had a shift a little later on which he took a hit from Kevin Rooney. Rooney was down on the ice as the play went the other way, and as Ho-Sang passed, Ho-Sang gave him a little shove to the back of the helmet. (Might speak a little to his engagement the past few games.) He carried the puck up-ice as Bridgeport took momentum back; the puck went back and forth a bit, but it was mostly in the Sound Tigers’ favor. Seth Helgeson got in on the forecheck and threw a big hit to keep it. Stephen Gionta drew a penalty. The rest is seven-goals-in-a-row history, but I asked Ho-Sang about that shift of his.
“We were flat as a team,” Ho-Sang said. “Our power play, which has been our strongest point the past couple of games, gave up a goal. Mike (Dal Colle) and I were on for that, so. Jonesy (Connor Jones) talked to us and was like, listen, we need to reset. Let’s go have a hard shift. Jonesy’s really the leader of that line, really guides us, teaches us when we need to be taught. He’s really good at working with Mike and I. He got us going, and not too long after, we scored.”
Three points for Chris Bourque leave him at 699 career in the AHL.
This feels distinctly like one of those meaningless “I looked this up, so I will subject you to it” facts (which, aren’t most of them on here): This is the second-deepest into a season for Bridgeport to have its first three-game streak in any direction. The deepest: Two years ago, when it took until Games 14, 15 and 16 (and then 17) to win three in a row. This is wins in Games 11-13. I guess if nothing else it reinforces how up-and-down the first month or so was. (Asterisk: In Year 1, that first three-game streak was three consecutive ties in Games 9-11. They won their next eight.)
Meanwhile, as noted in passing pregame, Worcester’s offense continued to sputter in a loss at St. John’s. The Railers try again tonight. Which is like in 30 minutes.
Optional tomorrow, and with other assignments, I may opt out, so more as it comes.