Early goal no guarantee of AHL success, but it helps
Updated 12:43 am, Friday, January 4, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Teams that have scored in the first couple of minutes of AHL games this year have learned a tough lesson: There's still 58-63 minutes to go.
It may sound like a head start, but even an early goal leaves a lot of time left to play. What comes next has helped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with a goal in the first two minutes of each of the past four games, to four consecutive wins.
"It's funny, looking at the beginning of the year, we kind of had statistics the other way around," coach Scott Pellerin said. "We kind of learned from those starts."
By the night after Thanksgiving, Bridgeport had allowed a first-two-minutes goal five times in 16 games, coming back to win two of them. In the 16 games since, it has scored that early five times, winning all five.
More InformationWHEN: Friday, 7 p.m. WHERE: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Mass. WEBCAST: www.soundtigers.com RECORDS: Bridgeport 17-12-1-2; Springfield 17-8-2-3 SEASON SERIES: Bridgeport leads 1-0. LAST MEETING: Bridgeport won 3-2 in a shootout Oct. 27 at Springfield. ABOUT THE SOUND TIGERS: Bridgeport has won a season-high four in a row, scoring in the first two minutes of each game. ... LW Nino Niederreiter leads the team at 16-15-31. ... C Casey Cizikas is 5-4-9 in the past 10 games. ... C Matt Watkins is 2-3-5 in the past six. ... The Sound Tigers have killed off 26 consecutive penalties. ... LW Brett Gallant serves the third and final game of a league suspension. ABOUT THE FALCONS: The Falcons lead Bridgeport by two points with two games in hand for the Northeast Division lead. ... RW Cam Atkinson is among the league leaders at 16-19-35. LW Jonathan Audy-Marchessault is 8-20-38. ... G Curtis McElhinney (2.16 GAA, .931 save percentage) has already set a team record with six shutouts. ... Former Bridgeport LW Scott Howes signed a tryout Thursday. UP NEXT: Saturday at Portland, 7 p.m. -- MICHAEL FORNABAIO
For the rest of the league, it's not that simple.
Through Wednesday, teams that have scored first have a winning percentage (points gained over points available) of .698, not counting four games that went scoreless to shootouts. Obviously, that first goal can come early, leaving a whole game to be played, or could come in overtime, ending things 1-0.
When the first goal comes in the first minute, the team that scored it is 16-9-3-2 in 30 games for just a .617 percentage. If it comes in the second minute, the team is 38-22-6-2, .618.
(Because of bonus points for shootout wins and overtime losses, the league's overall points percentage is .553.)
The Sound Tigers have followed up their early goals with, usually, a solid next 58 minutes. They've gotten good goaltending, better play in their own end, and superb special-teams play, with a highly ranked power play and a penalty kill that hasn't allowed a goal in 26 chances.
"I think we're having better efforts, from goaltending to defensemen to forwards," Pellerin saidd. "When we struggled, we weren't all on the same page at the same time. One player, one element of the game was going well, and another element was not."
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