Lorito scores at 1:13 of overtime to force winner-take-all Game 5 on Saturday
HERSHEY, Penn. - Matt Lorito scored the game-winning goal 73 seconds into overtime on Thursday to lift the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 3-2 victory in a must-win Game 4 against the Hershey Bears at Giant Center.
With the win, the Sound Tigers evened their best-of-five first-round series at 2-2, setting up a winner-take-all Game 5 at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday.
Stephen Gionta and Oliver Wahlstrom each scored in regulation, but Bridgeport never led until Lorito fired home the game-winner off Vitek Vanecek's glove at 1:13 of overtime. It was Lorito's first playoff game-winner since May 27, 2017, when he helped the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Game 5 victory in the Western Conference Finals.
Hershey scored the initial goal for the fourth time in as many games with Ryan Sproul's second goal of the series, following his game-winner on Tuesday. Beck Malenstyn created a flurry of chances in the Sound Tigers' zone when he hammered a shot above the right circle that Christopher Gibson turned back. Brian Pinho gathered the loose puck and ripped another shot from the right side that Gibson stopped, but Pinho slipped the rebound to the crease and Sproul pushed it in at the 5:47 mark.
Gionta tied the game 2:18 into the second period with his first goal of the postseason on a rebound in front. Vanecek denied Kyle Burroughs on a backhand shot between the circles and the second chance skipped to Gionta, where he muscled home the equalizer.
Steve Whitney took a high-sticking penalty at 15:01 of the middle frame, but Hershey swung the momentum with Jayson Megna's second shorthanded goal of the series. Chris Bourque had the puck jump over his stick at the right point and Megna charged after it and won a race in transition. He outlasted Bourque to the puck and tucked a forehand shot between Gibson's pads to make it 2-1 at the 15:22 mark.
Wahlstrom responded with his first professional playoff goal in the opening two minutes of the third period to knot the score at 2-2. Otto Koivula directed a pass to the right point where Burroughs stepped into a slap shot near the blue line. His drive was redirected by Wahlstrom in the low slot and beat Vanecek at 1:56. It was one of Bridgeport's 17 shots in the third period, but the club's only tally, despite outshooting the Bears by 12.
In overtime, Lorito settled Josh Ho-Sang's pass and skated to the left circle where he ripped a shot off of Vanecek's glove for the dagger.
Bridgeport outshot Hershey 40-24, including 30-11 in the second and third periods combined. Gibson (2-1) made 22 saves, while Vanecek (1-1) turned back 37 shots.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers host Hershey in a winner-take-all Game 5 this Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Webster Bank Arena. Take advantage of a "4 for $44" ticket special, which includes four seats to the conclusion of the Atlantic Division Semifinals. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV , beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...
American Hockey League Stories from April 25, 2019
- Lorito scores at 1:13 of overtime to force winner-take-all Game 5 on Saturday - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Marlies to Face Cleveland Monsters in Second Round of 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs - Toronto Marlies
- Bears Fall in Overtime, Series Extends to Game 5 - Hershey Bears
- Monsters Blank Crunch 3-0 to Advance to North Division Finals - Cleveland Monsters
- Crunch Fall to Monsters, 3-0 - Syracuse Crunch
- Cleveland Monsters Advance to North Division Finals - Cleveland Monsters
- Blackhawks Name King Head Coach of Rockford IceHogs - Rockford IceHogs
- Eagles Announce Series of Transactions - Colorado Eagles
- 'Canes Recall Bishop from Charlotte - Charlotte Checkers
- T-Birds' Goals for Groceries Initiative Provides 14,100 Meals to Food Bank of Western Mass - Springfield Thunderbirds
- Sound Tigers Battle in Must-Win Game 4 Tonight - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Game Preview: Sound Tigers at Bears, 7 p.m. (Atlantic Division Semifinals - Game 4) - Hershey Bears
- Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Undergoes Successful Hip Surgery - Rochester Americans
- Gulls Knockout San Jose, 5-2 - San Diego Gulls
- Barracuda Eliminated from Playoffs After 5-2 Loss to San Diego - San Jose Barracuda
- San Diego Gulls Advance to Pacific Division Finals - San Diego Gulls
- Griffins and Wolves to Play Decisive Game 5 - Grand Rapids Griffins
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Bridgeport Sound Tigers Stories
- NCAA 2023 Division I Men's Hockey Regionals Coming to City of Bridgeport and Webster Bank Arena
- Czarnik and Hutton Agree to Two-Year Deals
- Former Sound Tigers Pushed New York Islanders to Deep Playoff Run
- Bridgeport Sound Tigers to Host Free Virtual Youth Hockey Coaching Clinic
- Sound Tigers Hit Long Island for NHL's Return to Play