BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—After 18 days off to practice and prepare for the second round the Sound Tigers came out flat.
Eric Clapton score his first as a Maple Leaf started with jump while Bridgeport skated like flat soda.
Dave Roche tied the game on an in front tipping off a Chris Armstrong point shot and Justin Mapletoft intercepted a clearing pass, took three steps over the blue line and beat Sebastien Centomo high glove side. Five-on-five the Sound Tigers were matched by the Saint John’s Maple Leafs until late in the second period when the Sound Tigers special teams won the game.
The Maple Leafs’ Bob Wren tied the game at 18”07 of the second, outworking the Sound Tigers behind their net, driving through Matt Higgins, high sticking Higgins, and wristing a shot top-shelf on Rick DiPietro. Jason Krog was called for slashing 30 seconds later and a huge opportunity loomed for Saint John’s.
The Leafs pressured DiPietro on the power play when the puck moved to a gutting defenseman, Anders Eriksson, who was in a shooting lane but chose drop pass the puck to a vacant blue line.
Patrick Leahy and Juraj Kolnik pounced on the puck and seemed to fight for possession of the puck. Eriksson recovered enough to hook Leahy but Kolnik took the puck in alone on goalie Centomo and roofed a wrister for his third of the playoffs.
“If he doesn’t hold, [Leahy] had a breakaway,” said Kolnik, “but I call to him and I got a breakaway.”
The score remained the same when Branislav Mezei was assessed a five minute major for high sticking down Bobby House in left Bridgeport corner.
“Our penalty killing came up huge when it needed to,” said Steve Stirling.
The Maple Leafs recorded just one shot in 4:31 until Bobby House took his revenge on Ray Schultz, roughing Schultz up right in front of the Sound Tigers bench.
Dave Roche scored from deep in the right corner for his second power play goal of the night and the playoffs, icing the game for the Sound Tigers.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
With Trent Hunter busy scoring his first NHL goal for the Islanders in a 6-3 loss to Toronto coach Stirling was forced to change the lineup.
One player to benefit was Patrick Leahy, playing a regular shift on the power play and penalty kill, assisted on Roche’s second power play goal of the night in the third to ice the game and on Kolnik’s game-winner.
The only holdover from the first round was the third line combo of Torres-Mapletoft-Morisset. Torres and Mapletoft played a physical game all night and Morisset pursued the puck well.
The other line combos were:
Kolnik-Krog-Tuomainen — with Tuomainen taking Hunter’s spot
Leahy-Podollan-Roche – a completely different line combo, sometimes with Higgins rotated in until Higgins was injured on a Bob Wren high stick.
A Maple Leaf player to watch out for is Andre Payette, a LW who was in the middle of many scrums last night. He has a penchant for taking penalties but is an effective antagonize.
The Sound Tigers play the Maple Leafs again tonight. Game time is 7:05.