HARTFORD -- The Bridgeport Sound Tigers' season is over because of one of those black-and-white, automatic rules. There's not much they can do about that.
Casey Wellman scored with 3:24 remaining in the first overtime period Sunday at the XL Center, finishing off a 4-3 Connecticut Whale win and a three-game series sweep in the teams' first playoff meeting.
Tony Romano's stick broke Wade Redden's; that rule, in place for several years, is automatic. What had the Sound Tigers steamed was other infractions that the referees let go.
"Putrid," Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. "One of the worst displays of officiating I've ever seen. I'm proud of our team. We battled back three different times."
The Sound Tigers never led in three games, shut out twice at home by goalie Cam Talbot before erasing three Whale leads Sunday.
They had a few good chances in overtime. Scott Howes and Blair Riley had whacks at a loose puck around the net midway through the period. Whale defenseman Brendan Bell ended the threat by knocking the net off.
Had referees Francis Charron and Chris Brown deemed that intentional, they could've awarded a penalty shot. It wouldn't have been Sunday's first: Kris Newbury got one in the third period when Aaron Ness gave him a slash in the back on a breakaway that Kevin Poulin stopped. (The rule cited: tripping.) Newbury fanned on the penalty shot.
The Sound Tigers were upset over several non-calls while they were short-handed, followed by a season-ending automatic call, the second such penalty of the night.
"What are you going to do?" Thompson said. "We worked hard. At times we weren't as disciplined as we should be."
Talbot, not the Whale's No. 1 goalie most of the year, stopped 127 of 130 Bridgeport shots in the three games.
"Talbot played out of his mind," said Thompson, who played two years here with Whale coach Ken Gernander. "They had some good plays. They competed. They're well-coached."
Justin DiBenedetto and David Ullstrom took turns setting each other up for goals around the net. After Marek Hrivik's second of the night, fourth in two games, gave the Whale a 3-2 lead with 8:42 remaining, Rhett Rakhshani buried the rebound of a Romano shot with 3:21 to go.
"It shows the character of our team," DiBenedetto said. "Throughout the whole year we faced adversity. We were in last place, came back, won the division. We'd be down, and we'd come back and win."
Kevin Poulin made 50 saves, a few of them off Newbury point-blank rebound chances.
There wasn't much he could do on the winner, when Redden found Wellman rushing up the right side.
"The guy made a great play, two-on-one," Poulin said. "Great pass, tip in front, goal."
Romano came out of the box and had a few words for the referees. The misconduct he received is pretty much automatic as well, not that he'll have anywhere to serve it.
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1. CASEY WELLMAN, CONNECTICUT: Scored series-winning power-play goal in OT.
2. CAM TALBOT, CONNECTICUT: Made 44 saves.
3. KEVIN POULIN, BRIDGEPORT: Had a few huge saves among his 50.
UNSUNG HERO: Moving Tony Romano up helped set up the tying goal.
UP NEXT: End of season.
-- MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Bridgeport 1 0 2 0-- 3
Connecticut 1 0 2 1-- 4
First Period -- 1, Connecticut, Hrivik 3 (Wellman, Vernace), 6:11 (pp). 2, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 1 (Ullstrom, de Haan), 19:44 (pp). Penalties -- Donovan, Bpt (slashing), 3:39; Riley, Bpt (check to head), 4:52; Audy-Marchessault, Con (cross-checking), 16:14; Nightingale, Con (high-sticking), 18:28.
Second Period -- No scoring. Penalties -- DiBenedetto, Bpt (roughing), 8:56; Newbury, Con (roughing), 8:56; Ness, Bpt (slashing), 9:38; Mouillierat, Bpt (tripping), 12:46; Ness, Bpt (cross-checking), 14:14.
Third Period -- 3, Connecticut, Bourque 2 (Tessier, Thuresson), 5:32. 4, Bridgeport, Ullstrom 1 (DiBenedetto, Donovan), 10:32. 5, Connecticut, Hrivik 4 (Deveaux, Valentenko), 11:18. 6, Bridgeport, Rakhshani 1 (Romano, de Haan), 16:39. Penalties -- Bell, Con (cross-checking), 8:24.
Overtime -- 7, Connecticut, Wellman 1 (Redden, Thuresson), 16:36. Penalties -- Romano, Bpt (slashing), 14:40; Bridgeport bench, game misconduct, 16:36; Romano, Bpt, misconduct, 16:36.
Missed penalty shot -- Newbury, Con, 8:56 third.
Shots on goal -- Bridgeport 10-10-19-8-- 47. Connecticut 7-22-14-11-- 54.
Power play opportunities -- Bridgeport 1 of 3, Connecticut 2 of 6.
Goaltenders -- Bridgeport, Poulin 0-3 (54 shots-50 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 3-0 (47-44).
Attendance -- 3,856. Referees -- C. Brown, Charron. Linesmen -- Galvin, Wahl.