The Calder Cup Playoffs are still a few weeks away, yet one team came into tonight acting like they started yesterday.
Facing a must win situation, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers came into Wilkes-Barre tonight and won 4-3. If they lost, they would have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Bridgeport always plays the Penguins tough. Moreso than previous years it seems. Styles make fights. There wasn’t one thing, save for a defensive gaffe in the third period, that I can place my finger on that the Penguins were deficient in. Sometimes in matchups with two evenly matched teams the team that makes less mistakes wins the game. That team tonight was the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Tristan Jarry opposed Chris Gibson.
Lineup wise, the only change was Gage Quinney returning after a five game hiatus due to a lower body injury, replacing Sam Lafferty, who warmed up.
First Period: Penguins scored quickly on a power play when Daniel Sprong’s shot from the point was deflected in front by Tom Kostopoulos.
But Bridgeport responded quickly on a power play of their own when Josh Ho-Sang dropped a pass to Mitch Vande Sompel who wired one far side past Jarry to make it a tie game.
Ryan Bourque put a shot / pass down low a few minutes later to John Stevens who wheeled around the net then put a pass right on the tape of Steve Bernier in front for a goal that made it 2-1 Sound Tigers.
Shots after one were 11-8 Bridgeport. But for a late power play for the Sound Tigers, an even overall period.
Second Period: Mama, there goes that man again. Mitch Vande Sompel snipes his second of the game short side on Jarry to give the Sound Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Penguins get it back to one when Teddy Blueger won a faceoff to Daniel Sprong who shot it quickly.
That goal kick started the Penguins who started to come in waves and attacked the offensive zone.
Slight problem though. Christopher Gibson was stopping everything.
Penguins fail to tie it on a late power play. So it was off to the…
Third Period: Bridgeport reestablished their two goal lead when they sustained pressure by the Penguins in their defensive zone. Kyle Schempp took it out and a trailing Andrey Pedan, gassed at the end of his shift, was not able to defend Josh Holmstrom for the easy tap in.
I mean, take a penalty or something.
Penguins kept pushing, but time was running out.
On a power play, Teddy Blueger would tip in a Daniel Sprong shot that brought the Pens to within one :28 into a power play.
They continued to press, but time remained the enemy. With Jarry out for an extra attacker and through timeouts and even a late power play, Wilkes-Barre’s 16th consecutive trip to the playoffs would have to wait another day.
Three Stars: 3) Daniel Sprong (goal, two assists, -1) 2) Ryan Bourque (two assists, +2) and 1) Mitch Vande Sompel (two goals, +1)
Around the Division: Hartford visited Providence and got thumped 6-3. Springfield traveled to Laval and beat the Rocket 5-1. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Lehigh Valley (.674 percentage points) — Penguins (.634) — Providence (.627) — Charlotte (.611) — Bridgeport (.563) — Hartford (.493) — Springfield (.479) — Hershey (.465)
Wheeling Update: Facing a must win to keep their playoff chances alive, the Nailers lost to the Brampton Beast 4-3. The Nailers will miss the playoffs.
Pens are in action for the final regular season home game against Binghamton. It’s a TV game, so if you can’t make it down, watch it on TV locally. Game day setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!