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Sound Tigers facing long playoff odds

Updated 12:25 am, Tuesday, April 16, 2013
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Portland Pirates at Bridgeport Sound Tigers
WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Webster Bank Arena
WEBCAST: www.soundtigers.com
RECORDS: Portland 38-29-3-2; Bridgeport 31-30-6-5
SEASON SERIES: Portland leads 3-0.
LAST MEETING: The Pirates won 6-3 Jan. 12 at Bridgeport.
ABOUT THE PIRATES: Portland's magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three points. ... Captain and leading scorer Alex Bolduc (24-27-51) is up with Phoenix, leaving C Andy Miele (18-31-49) in the team lead. ... Rookie RW Chris Brown is 25-15-40. ... Phoenix recalled former Hartford G Chad Johnson again on Monday.
ABOUT THE SOUND TIGERS: Bridgeport is six points out of a playoff spot with four games to play. ... Captain Matt Watkins (knee) was injured Friday and didn't practice Monday. ... LW Joey Diamond was also banged up Friday and skated on his own Monday. ... C Brock Nelson leads the team and is second among AHL rookies at 24-27-51.
UP NEXT: Friday at Portland, 7 p.m.
-- MICHAEL FORNABAIO
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BRIDGEPORT -- The math is relatively simple and desperately against them. SportsClubStats.com gives the Bridgeport Sound Tigers about a 1-in-77 chance of negotiating this week well enough to make the AHL playoffs.

Basically, they've got four games this week, beginning with Tuesday's rescheduled home game against Portland. Winning them all is probably the only way to overcome the long odds to reach the postseason for the third time in four years. And even then it's not in their hands.

"We can just focus on what we can do," Bridgeport's David Ullstrom said. "We've got to give it a shot and see where it takes us. We've got to win these games."

What works against Bridgeport? Quite a bit, beyond simply being six points out with a chance to earn only eight.

Manchester and Hershey, who are four points ahead of the Sound Tigers, play each other to end the season Sunday.

The Sound Tigers would probably have tiebreakers against Norfolk and Hershey but wouldn't against the Connecticut Whale or Manchester.

There's little Bridgeport can do about that now except win, which they did Friday in Syracuse in overtime after a disappointing home loss to Worcester last Tuesday.

"We outplayed (Syracuse). We should've won by five or six goals," Ullstrom said. "I should have had five myself."

Coach Scott Pellerin liked the effort, in which the Sound Tigers controlled play over the final two periods and overtime, winning on a Brock Nelson goal.

"I thought the guys responded after Syracuse went on a good push, basically. To get two points out of there was really big," Pellerin said.

"Now, four games left, we've got to focus on the next opponent."

Their next opponent happens to be the opponent after that and their last opponent as well.

Bridgeport faces Portland three times in the season's final six days, including Friday in Maine and Sunday back in Bridgeport to finish out the year. The unusual stretch became necessary when the Pirates' visit to Bridgeport on Feb. 9 was postponed by the massive blizzard of the previous 48 hours.

Captain Matt Watkins took a knee-on-knee hit Friday in Syracuse -- the consensus was that it didn't seem to be an intentionally dirty hit, though it did enough damage -- and was to be evaluated Monday; nothing on his condition was immediately available.

Rookie Joey Diamond skated on his own Monday after taking his own lumps last week. Their absences mixed up the lines; Pellerin he'd see who he had available before making a final decision on lines.

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

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