Talbot blanks Bridgeport again

(ctwhale.com) — The Whale defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-0, Saturday night in the second game of their best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

The Whale bumped their lead to two games to none over Bridgeport, who face elimination in Game Three slated for Sunday in Hartford (5:00 ET, AHL Live).

Cam Talbot was excellent in goal for the second straight game, becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to notch back-to-back shutouts in the postseason with a 41-save performance. Talbot has stopped 83 straight shots to begin the playoffs, and is the first AHL goaltender to begin a playoff season with back-to-back shutouts since Michael Leighton, then of the Norfolk Admirals in 2004.

Marek Hrivik scored his first two postseason goals of his pro career for the Whale, and Casey Wellman added two assists to lead the Connecticut attack.

“For the most part we’ve been very patient and eliminated those unforced errors,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “We make them earn it. We did a good job eliminating second and third opportunities and Cam did a good job on the initial saves.”

The Whale turned the momentum of the game right away, killing off an early five-on-three Bridgeport power-play just minutes into the first period. The penalty kill, combined with the play of Talbot, helped to stifle the Sound Tigers, who were held without a goal in five man-advantage attempts on the night.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault put the Whale up 1-0 just 5:32 into the first period, as he picked off a pass from Sound Tigers defenseman Jon Landry. Audy-Marchessault skated in and shot on goaltender Kevin Poulin (27 saves), who made the initial save, but could not stop the rookie forward’s rebound attempt. Audy-Marchessault’s first goal of his pro playoff career came unassisted.

Talbot continued his strong play in goal, building on Thursday’s 42-save shutout in Game One with 13 first period saves, to remain perfect through four periods of play.

Hrivik would extend the lead to 2-0 6:44 into the second period, converting a pass from Wellman in the slot.

The Sound Tigers outshot the Whale, 28-20, through two periods, but Talbot continued to dazzle Bridgeport with 70 straight saves through five periods in the series.

Hrivik buried his second goal of the night with 5:45 left in the game on the power-play, skating in on Poulin down the left-hand boards and firing a shot over his stick side. Wellman picked up his second assist of the game on the goal.

Talbot would hold the lead the rest of the way, continuing to stone the Sound Tigers.

“I’m just trying to give us a chance to win every night and the guys are coming through with some big goals,” said Talbot. “The biggest thing is we’re getting balanced scoring from every single line.”