Friday, April 20, 2012
Connecticut Whale Begin Playoffs With A Cam Do Attitude.
Wednesday night was the Whale's first playoff tilt of the 2011-2012 season. The surprise of the night may not have been that Cam Talbot started in net over Chad Johnson but that Cam slammed the door shut on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers giving the Whale their first win in Bridgeport this year. Cam's 42 save performance last night was the most in franchise history in a playoff shutout.
Through the first two periods the Whale and Sound Tigers were knotted up with no score. Talbot and Sound Tiger goalie Kevin Poulin had turned away every scoring attempt until early in the third period.
Just over a minute into the third period the Whale's Seventh Man Award winner Kelsey Tessier proved why he deserved the award. Tessier took a Tim Erixon pass and beat Poulin on a breakaway to put the Whale in front 1-0.
The team played very gritty and did not give up on pressuring Poulin, and it worked as he finally began to crack in the third period. Poulin even showed some signs of frustration when he drew a penalty for punching Jordan Owens.
The good news continued to come last night as the Whale took a two goal lead at 9:38 of the third period. Jordan Owens took a pass from Ryan Bourque and after Poulin blocked Owen's first shot he took the rebound and threw a back handed shot past Poulin. The players who knew how to grind were winning it for the Whale. Owens has been one of the hardest scrappiest players on the Whale this season, and he also has no fear. The line of Tessier, Owens and Bourque created problems for the Sound Tigers who could not contain the gritty line from the Whale.
A few minutes later the game was almost a lock when Bourque scored his first professional playoff goal at 13:18. Bourque took a rebound from a shot by Tessier and put the puck past Poulin to give the Whale a commanding 3-0 lead with just over six minutes left. Pavel Valentenko got an assist on the goal.
Bridgeport gave a last chance shot by pulling Poulin with 2:40 left in the third but they could not close the gap or get the puck past Talbot.
The Whale also successfully killed off all five Bridgeport power plays.
With the win the Whale also guaranteed a second home playoff game in Hartford.
The team was extremely happy to have won, it was evident in the amount of tweets that came from the players.
Tessier tweeted: "Big road win from Ct. Whale @ctalbot33 what a game!!! Kept us in there. Thanks to all the fans for their support and comments."
Mike Vernace tweeted: "And the boys start it off the right way! #allabouttheW that's 1. Great effort all around, now focus is on game 2."
Talbot tweeted: "Huge win for the boys tonight in Bridgeport! Couldn't ask for a better start in our quest for the Calder!!"
After his stellar performance expect Talbot to get the nod again for a start in game two.
There is no better start to a series than a game one win on the road. Although the big scorers for the Whale remained quiet last night, it was a well fought battle by the team and a gutsy performance. When a playoff team has a hot goalie, as the Whale appear to have now, things could get really interesting as the series rolls on.
Game two will be on Saturday night at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. The game will start at 7P.M.