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Sound Tiger DiPietro sharp in shutout

Updated 12:50 am, Monday, March 18, 2013

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  • Albany's Corbin McPherson, left, chases Sound Tiger Brandon DeFazio into the corner during the second period of their AHL hockey matchup at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Sunday, March 17, 2013. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post
    Albany's Corbin McPherson, left, chases Sound Tiger Brandon DeFazio into the corner during the second period of their AHL hockey matchup at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Sunday, March 17, 2013. Photo: Brian A. Pounds

 

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BRIDGEPORT -- The celebration was subdued. Sunday looked like just another day at the office for Rick DiPietro in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' net.

He'd earned his first shutout since 2010, his eighth in the AHL after recording 15 in the AHL. Something else mattered more to him.

"It's just a win," DiPietro said after stopping all 33 Albany Devils shots in a 2-0 win at Webster Bank Arena. "A win's all that matters. I'll take a win any way I can get it."

But his teammates' smiles as they mobbed him said volumes.

"It's huge. I'm so happy for him," said Nino Niederreiter, DiPietro's teammate with the New York Islanders the past two years. "He's been through very tough moments. When he came back, we kind of threw him under the bus."

That first start after the Islanders sent him down, March 1, DiPietro was charged with five goals on 12 shots in one period as Bridgeport handed Connecticut Whale players open shots.

Since then, the veteran NHLer is 4-2 with a 2.14 goals-against average. He has stopped 157 of 170 shots (92.4 percent).

"You get a chance to play a lot of games, you're going to get sharper," DiPietro said. "I can't say enough about how much I enjoy working with Steve Valiquette (the team's goaltending consultant). He's been amazing."

DiPietro mentioned the old saying that everything happens for a reason. He feels getting to work with Valiquette, his Bridgeport goaltending partner in 2001-02 and 2002-03, may be one of those reasons.

Going through all kinds of injuries the past few years, "you don't get the opportunity to work on things in your game," DiPietro said. "You're always rehabbing."

DiPietro and Albany's Keith Kinkaid both made big saves throughout as both teams completed grueling, travel-filled weekends.

Coach Scott Pellerin was looking for a way to keep the team loose despite its scoring drought. He found a prop outside the dressing room before the third period.

Left over from a promotion was a board, filling a 24-square-foot hockey net, with a cutout at the bottom just wide enough for a puck. The lucky fan had to hit the little slot.

"We've just got to get it in the four-by-six," Pellerin said.

They did it twice in the third. Aaron Ness and Scott Campbell disrupted Albany's power-play breakout to set up Brock Nelson's short-handed goal at 10:35, ending a string of 118 minutes, 25 seconds without a Bridgeport goal.

Niederreiter batted in a midair rebound with 1:57 left in front of an announced 6,060.

Bridgeport got no closer to playoff position, though; Hershey and Connecticut both won to keep the Sound Tigers six points behind with 15 games left.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.connpost.com/fornabaio

3 stars

1. RICK DiPIETRO, BRIDGEPORT: Made 33 saves for his first shutout in over two years.

2. KEITH KINKAID, ALBANY: Made 41 saves.

3. BROCK NELSON, BRIDGEPORT: Scored the tie-breaking short-handed goal.

UNSUNG HERO: Scott Campbell forced a turnover to set up Nelson's goal.

UP NEXT: Friday at Providence, 7:05 p.m.

-- MICHAEL FORNABAIO

ALBANY 0 0 0--0

BRIDGEPORT 0 0 2--2

First Period -- No scoring. Penalties -- Kabanov, Bpt, major (boarding), :34; Wiseman, Alb, major (fighting), 5:15; Cantin, Bpt, major (fighting), 5:15; Janssen, Alb, major (fighting), 6:40; Huxley, Bpt, major (fighting), 6:40; Wohlberg, Alb (holding), 9:28.

Second Period -- No scoring. Penalties -- McPherson, Alb (hooking), :21; Sestito, Alb (tripping), 1:27; Donovan, Bpt (tripping), 12:21; Sislo, Alb (slashing), 17:36; DeFazio, Bpt (holding), 17:36; Zalewski, Alb, major (fighting), 18:15; Donovan, Bpt, major (fighting), 18:15.

Third Period -- 1, Bridgeport, Nelson 17 (Campbell), 10:35 (sh). 2, Bridgeport, Niederreiter 26 (Sundstrom, Kabanov), 18:03. Penalties -- Sestito, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:49; DeFazio, Bpt (interference), 9:49; Riley, Bpt (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:49; McPherson, Alb (delay of game), 14:18.

Shots on goal -- Albany 9-12-12--33. Bridgeport 8-20-15--43.

Power play opportunities -- Albany 0 of 3, Bridgeport 0 of 4.

Goaltenders -- Albany, Kinkaid 18-13-5 (43 shots-41 saves). Bridgeport, DiPietro 4-3-0 (33-33).

Attendance -- 6,060. Referees -- Knorr, Leduc. Linesmen -- F. Murphy, Wahl.

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