Sound Tigers 4, Phantoms 3 (SO) 12/31
I think that's a pretty good way to sum up this 4-3 shootout loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday. They got off to a slow start, then their defense stepped up with two big goals to help them tie it. They wind up getting a point in a game they probably had no business winning once it was 3-0.
"You get the looks that you want to have," Phantoms coach Terry Murray said. "I thought we had a third period that was a good third period. We had an opportunity to win the game. There were four or five real quality scoring chances, also in the overtime, and that's all you're looking for. To be able to keep going and get the looks that will give you the chance to win it. I think (Eric) Wellwood went in (in the shootout), he might of hit (Bridgeport goalie Kevin Poulin) in the helmet. That was just the way it went. It was a good effort to come back and tie the game up. We'll take that."
They're 13-16-1-1, and no Eastern Conference team has fewer points than Adirondack's 28. Dimmen, who kickstarted the comeback when he joined the rush at the 9:48 mark of the second and wristed a shot in, is right in that they need to win games like this, but it comes down to their start and finishing.
They give up a goal on the first shot of the game and then can't finish any of their quality chances in the third period, but Murray and defenseman Brandon Manning said they were giving up too many scoring opportunities in the first place. Correct that first and their own scoring chances will come.
"I'd always rather go to the other side of the game, the checking part," Murray said. "I'd like to be better on that side to start with. I think whenever you're a good checking team, lots of opportunities will come in the other side of the puck. In the early part of the game, we were a little bit off. We gave up too many chances. They were pressing hard, they pinched hard. They had some extended time in our zone with their cycle and forechecks. I'd like to be able to grab a hold of that puck a little faster than what we did and be able to settle thing and hopefully have a breakout or just get a face-off."
When you don't do that and you allow a team extended time in your zone, you're asking for trouble.
That's partly how Bridgeport was able to build that 3-0 lead, which Dimmen, Sean Couturier and Manning completely erased in a span of 8:25 in the second period. That was after Murray pulled Munroe in favor of Cal Heeter, though that wasn't for anything that the veteran goalie had done.
"We weren't there for him tonight," Manning said. "There's been so many games where he's been there for us. Unfortunately tonight we just couldn't get one more to help our goalies out."
Added Murray: "You get down by three and you need to change momentum. I believe in the momentum part of it. I thought Heeter came in, he made a couple very big stops. Made one stop there that was from side-to-side. It was an excellent save and he kept everybody energized on the bench."
What's the key to providing that spark?
"You just have to make sure you come out there and you don't make any real mistakes," Heeter said. "We're already down 3-0, so I don't want to say there's no pressure, but you just go out there and you try and do your best. It's the same as if you're starting the game. It's tough coming off the bench. You haven't seen a puck in a while, so you just try and make that first save, get into the game quick and move from there."
Poulin did an admirable job doing that same thing for the Sound Tigers once he came on at the start of the third. The Connecticut Post's Michael Fornabaio caught up with Scott Pellerin, who explained the decision to make the switch there. Poulin finished with 17 saves, allowing one shootout goal.
Heeter also finished with 17 saves, but fell to 4-9-1. Nino Niederreiter, David Ullstrom and Jon Landry scored in the shootout and Jason Akeson's toe-drag wasn't enough to answer those. It winds up as another one-goal game, and Adirondack's 2.48-goals-per-game offense wasn't enough to win.
“We need to help our goalies out,” Manning said. “We’ve won a lot of one-goal games this year. We finally put up a few tonight, but we need to find a way to score goals, that’s for sure.”
They're off tomorrow for the New Year. Hope you all celebrate safely. I'll be back Wednesday.
Until next time,