Bridgeport, CT – First game of the Calder Cup Finals was tied 3-3 with two minutes to go. Jason Krog tips in Juraj Kolnik’s centering feed from the corner to put Bridgeport up 4-3 with 1:43 remaining. 2.7 seconds left and Chicago defenseman Bob Nardella beats a screened Rick DiPietro to retie the game and send it into overtime.
And then at 9:26 of OT the lights went out. Play was whistled dead and the teams skated off the ice for an impromptu 10-minute intermission. Steve Maltais found Rob Brown who slid a pass through DiPietro’s slot to Andreas Karlsson for the game-winner.
“Maltais made a great pass,” said Karlsson “and I had an open net and I just put my stick down.”
The goal was Karlsson’s 6th of the playoffs and his third point of the night. Karlsson combined with Maltais (2 goals, one assist) and Brown (3 assists) to dominate the game.
Maltais opened the scoring five minutes into the first period when Karlsson’s pressure forced Branislav Mezei to cough the puck up behind his net. Karlsson fed Brown in front and his rebound went to Maltais for the tip in.
Maltais scored again at 9:34 of the first again assisted by Brown and Karlsson but on the power play this time. Brown slung a pass through the high slot to Maltais for the open net.
Bridgeport finally scored at 16:32 when Trent Hunter walked in from the left face off dot and deked a pylon-like Dallas Eakins to beat Pasi Nurminen high stick side; the puck trickling across the goal line.
“I was just thrilled to get to the end of the period down 2-1 and hang in there,” said Sound Tiger coach Steve Stirling.
The Sound Tigers would make a game of it in the second period after J.P. Vigier put the Wolves ahead 3-2 just 1:41 into the second period. Trent Hunter scored his second of the night, this time on the power play, off a bad angle shot.
Kolnik flipped the puck over the heads of the Wolves defense to a streaking Matt Higgins who went in on on one against Nurminen, beating him five-hole to tie the game 3-3 with his first goal of the playoffs. The game remained tied until Krog’s third period goal.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Despite coach Stirling’s contention that “one line can’t carry a team” the Wolves did just that and won. The Sound Tigers main line of Kolnik (3 assists), Krog (1goal, 1 assist), Hunter (2 goals) also played well but not well enough to win.
“We were close but close wasn’t good enough,” Said Stirling.
The referees and linesman faced a torrent of boos from fans as they skated before each period. Calls were missed against both teams although Bridgeport may have come out on the short end. On Nardella’s game-tying goal late in the third a linesman raised his arm indicating the puck was touched by a high stick but referee Eric Furlatt waived it off.
Coach Stirling said of the play, “it not a very good call, but that why they’re part time.”
Game Two is tonight in Bridgeport. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Go to www.soundtigers.com for ticket information.