By Bruce Berlet
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Connecticut Whale hasn’t had the problem scoring goals lately that they had early in the season, but they outdid themselves Wednesday night.
The Whale needed only eight shots to score four goals in the second period and then survived several ill-advised penalties in the third period to hold on for a 6-4 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms before 2,170 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Kris Newbury, Wade Redden, Tim Kennedy and Kelsey Tessier helped the Whale bat .500 in the second 20 minutes and score their most goals in a period this season, including two of their three on the power play. But they needed Mats Zuccarello’s empty-net goal off Newbury’s second assist with 25.8 seconds left to extend their season-high winning streak to five games and improve to 7-0-0-1 since being rebranded from the Wolf Pack on Nov. 27.
“We got our two points, but we weren’t as disciplined as we should be and can’t take that many penalties (four minors) in the third period,” Whale coach Ken Gernander said. “These were some penalties we didn’t need to take and some calls you don’t always agree with, but if you’re in the offensive zone and playing sound and on the right side of your checks, then more times than not, you’re not going to take penalties. If not, you tend to play loosey-goosey.
“But they came at us hard in our building (in a 4-3 victory Sunday), and they came at us hard in the third period here. I don’t think their record (4-23-2-0) is indicative of the kind of team they have. They’re going to create chances and opportunities on their own, but you have to make them earn all of them. We can’t give them advantages as far as manpower.”
The numerous turnovers on both sides made life miserable for the goalies, who allowed nine goals on 47 shots, plus Zuccarello’s empty-netter. The Whale was 3-for-6 on the power play and the Phantoms 3-for-7, including 2-for-4 in the third period.
Whale goalie Cameron Talbot made 19 saves to notch his fourth consecutive victory in his first back-to-back starts to improve to 5-2-0-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. The Whale (13-11-2-4) notched their second victory over the AHL’s worst team in three days, increased their point streak to nine games (7-0-0-2) and are two games above .500 for the first time since they were 3-1-0-1 after a 3-0 victory over Providence on Oct. 17.
That win was followed by a 1-9-2-1 slide, but the Whale have completely turned it around with a total team effort to climb into fourth place and only four points behind division co-leaders Portland and Manchester.
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