A third period power play goal by Springfield forward Nick Drazenovic that found its way past Bridgeport goaltender Kevin Poulin proved to be the difference as the Falcons topped the Tigers 5-4 before 3,801 fans at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield on Friday night.
Bridgeport broke on the board first when Matt Donovan picked up his fifth goal of the season by sending a one-timer from the point past Falcons' netminder Curtis McElhinney just 2:25 into the contest.
The Falcons responded with two quick by Michael Chaput at the 5:47 mark, and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault at 8:20,to give Springfield a 2-1 lead. But the Tigers struck back just 28 seconds later on the man advangage when Nino Niederreiter deflected a shot by Donovan from the point that made its way past McElhinney for team-leading 17th goal of the season. Springfield came back with two more tallies, however, and headed into the locker room with a 4-2 lead after a wild-and-wooley first period.
The pace of the game settled down in the second period as the two teams combined for just nine shots. Bridgeport's John Persson snuck a rebound of a shot taken by Jordan Hill past McElhinney for the only score of the middle frame, with the Falcons holding a 4-3 advantage after two periods.
With Bridgeport's Jon Landry in the penalty box for roughing, an unlucky bounce gave the Falcons a two-goal cushion and the eventual game-winning goal. Nick Drazenovic fired a wrist shot that bounced off a Sound Tiger in front of the goql and found its way past Poulin 2:39 into the third period, giving the home team a 5-3 lead. Persson scored his second goal of the game with 4:33 left in regulation, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Late in the third period, the Sound Tigers looked like they would get one last shot when Brandon DeFazio broke down ice and was taken down by Springfield's Theo Ruth. But rather than a penalty shot, Ruth was given just a two-minute minor for tripping. The Springfield penalty kill unit held off the Sound Tigers, and the Falcons skated away with a hard-fought 5-4 victory.
Poulin made 27 saves while being tagged with his first regulation loss since Nov. 24. McElhinney stopped 16 shots to earn his league-leading 16th win of the season.
Bridgeport now heads north to Maine where they will face the Portland Pirates Saturday night at 7 p.m.at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Sound Tigers then return home to face the Hershey Bears on Tuesday night. First puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Arena at Harbor Yard. Tickets are available at the Arena box office of through Ticketmaster.