Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead inside the first seven minutes of the game, the Worcester Sharks were unable to protect the lead as they allowed four answered goals in a 4-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the DCU Center Tuesday night. Sharks rookies Daniil Tarasov and Freddie Hamilton scored their 10th goals of the season while goaltender Alex Stalock made 31 saves for the Sharks, who were leapfrogged by the Sound Tigers for 12th place in the AHL Eastern Conference and trail the Hershey Bears by seven points for the last playoff spot with 10 games remaining.
Tarasov put the Sharks up 1-0 at 1:27 of the first period when he corralled a feed in the slot from linemate Peter Sivak and slid a backhanded shot through the pads of Sound Tigers goaltender Rick DiPietro. Sharks alternate captain Bracken Kearns was credited with the secondary assist.
After a 30-second seesaw fight between Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau and Sound Tigers right winger Blair Riley at 3:29, Hamilton extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 at 6:54 when he corralled a centering feed on top of the crease from linemate Sebastian Stalberg, who was on the end wall, and beat DiPietro with a quick shot from point blank range over the blocker. Sharks rookie Matt Nieto, who was playing in his first professional game after signing an ATO with the Sharks on April 1, registered an assist on the goal for his first professional point.
Sound Tigers rookie Ryan Strome, who was playing in his first professional game after signing an ATO on April 1, cut the Sharks lead in half at 17:59 with his first professional goal off a quick snap shot from on top of the right face-off circle that beat Stalock glove side.
Former Sharks defenseman Ty Wishart tied the game at 2:16 of the second period when he corralled an across-the-slot pass from Sound Tigers right winger Sean Backman and fired a snap shot from near the right face-off circle dot past a diving Stalock for his sixth goal of the season. The Sound Tigers took their first lead of the game at 19:07 when rookie Joe Diamond redirected Strome's centering feed past Stalock from on top of the crease after Strome stole the puck from Tarasov inside the Sharks zone. The goal was Diamond's first professional goal and held up as the game-winning-goal.
Sound Tigers left winger Brandon DeFazio added an insurance goal for the Sound Tigers at 5:10 of the third period when he beat Stalock on a wrap-around shot for his 11th goal of the season.
NOTES... Shots were 35-25 in favor of the Sound Tigers... The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... The Sharks are 1-for-32 on the power play in their last eight games... Stalock, who was making his first start since March 2 and was reassigned from San Jose on April 1, is now 15-13-3 with a 2.53 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage... Goaltender Thomas Greiss was recalled to San Jose on March 31... Nieto had a team high three shots on goal... Prior to the start of the game, the San Jose Sharks announced they signed Tarasov to a two-year contract and signed Nieto, Chris Tierney and Christopher Crane to entry-level contracts... Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty fought Diamond at 0:35 of the third period and Sound Tigers defenseman Nathan McIver at 8:10... With the three fights, the Sharks now have 71 through 66 games... Curt Gogol (inj), Brodie Reid (inj), Marek Viedensky (inj), Mike Brennan (scr), Yanni Gourde (scr), Lane Scheidl (scr) and Dane Walters (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the fourth of six meetings between the teams this season (the first meeting since Dec. 1, 2012)... The Sharks are 3-1-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season, 13-14-2-4 at the DCU Center and 29-29-2-6 with 66 points overall.
1. Ryan Strome - Sound Tigers (1-1-2)
2. Joe Diamond - Sound Tigers (1-0-1, GWG)
3. Matt Nieto - Sharks (0-1-1)