One night after being blown out by league-leading Hershey, the Albany River Rats answered the bell with a 4-3 overtime win over Bridgeport.
The Rats started hot Saturday night at the Times Union Center, but it took a defenseman’s goal with 14.5 left in regulation to force overtime, where a game-winner from Nick Dodge got Albany back on track.
Trailing 3-2, Albany pulled goalie Justin Peters with 1:06 left in the third to add a sixth man to the attack. Jonathan Paiement scored his first goal of the season with 14.5 left on a shot from above the left circle.
“It was great timing,” Paiement said. “We needed that game, we deserved that game. We outshot them and we played well. It was just two bad goals against, but we bounced back.”
With so many forwards on recall to the Carolina Hurricanes, Albany coach Jeff Daniels had been using Paiement up front, but he was back on D for his last shift of regulation.
Paiement said he welcomes the chance to play forward whenever it is offered.
“I know we are short at forward so Jeff asked me if I wanted to go play forward,” he said. “I just want to play hockey, so I said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ ”
Albany’s first two goals, both in the first period, also came from defensemen. Jay Harrison got the Rats on the board with a shot from the top of the left circle and Bryan Rodney followed with a goal from the top of the right circle.
“It’s huge because we are lacking up front, from a goal-scoring standpoint, but any time we can get our ‘D’ to contribute like that, it’s always a bonus,” Daniels said. “Right now, we’ll take scoring from anywhere. Tonight, our ‘D’ stepped up and scored some goals for us.”
Bridgeport answered with two goals in the second period, scored just 37 seconds apart, one on a power play and the other a solid shot from Jesse Joensuu, who ran his point streak to 10 games (5-8-13). In the third, Sean Bentivoglio scored shorthanded on a two-on-one rush, finishing the rebound of a shot by Tyler Haskins.
That set up Paiement’s late-game heroics and Dodge’s winner in the extra session, in front of a season-high crowd of 6,663, topping opening day’s 6,507.
With 1:41 expired in overtime, Bryan Rodney sent the puck to Chris Terry behind the Bridgeport net. Terry spotted Dodge heading toward the left side of the crease and fed him for the goal.
“I think it was Rod threw it down to Terry, I was cutting to the net, Terry tried to make the play to me and it bounced off their D-man’s stick,” Dodge said. “The goalie kind of looked over his shoulder, thinking it was going the other way behind the net and I just grabbed it and stuffed it. It was a garbage goal, but we’ll take it.”
The Rats moved to 22-16-2-2 and will play at Providence today at 4 p.m.
After losing, 10-4, to Hershey on Friday night, Daniels said Saturday’s game would test the character of the Rats. After Saturday’s win, he said he liked their response.
“I thought they showed it [character] all game,” Daniels said. “Up to those two goals they scored in the second period, I thought we played real well and controlled most of the play. They scored two goals, they got some momentum. In the third period, I thought we played hard, still. ”
Bridgeport 0 2 1 0 — 3
Albany 2 0 1 1 — 4
First Period — 1, Albany, Harrison 2 (Goertzen, Micflikier), 9:02. 2, Albany, Rodney 4 (Peters, Samson), 13:21 (pp). Penalties — Conboy, Alb (roughing), 5:00; Mauldin, Bri (holding), 9:27; Haskins, Bri (roughing), 11:23; Wotton, Bri (high-sticking), 11:57; Flood, Bri (roughing), 13:21; Bentivoglio, Bri (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:56; Samson, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:56.
Second Period — 3, Bridgeport Bartley 2 (Moore, Katic), 17:06 (pp). 4, Bridgeport, Joensuu 9 (Mauldin, DiBenedetto), 17:43. Penalties — Bentivoglio, Bri (interference), 13:12; Smith, Bri (roughing), 15:22; Angelidis, Alb, double-minor (roughing), 15:22.
Third Period — 5, Bridgeport, Bentivoglio 13 (Haskins), 9:07 (sh). 6, Albany, Paiement 1 (Chaput, Blanchard), 19:45. Penalties — Bartley, Bri (slashing), 8:12.
Overtime — 7, Albany, Dodge 9 (Terry, Rodney), 1:41. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 11-7-7-0 — 25. Albany 13-17-14-3 — 47.
Power-play opportunities — Bridgeport 1 of 2; Albany 1 of 6.
Goalies — Bridgeport, Lawson 8-8-2 (47 shots-43 saves); Albany, Peters 14-10-2 (25-22).
A — 6,663. T — 2:25.
Referees — Chris Ciamaga, Dave Lewis. Linesmen — Frank Murphy, Mike Emanatian.
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