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ALBANY: Rats gain upper hand in battle for playoff berth

Bridgeport drew even 17 seconds before the end of the second period. Blake Comeau circled around Albany's defensive zone and took a shot from near the blue line that Trevor Smith deflected past Tyler Weiman.

"We don't want to give up goals in the last minute of a period because it might give them momentum, but that's what happened," said Weiman.

Weiman and the rest of Albany's defense stifled Bridgeport's momentum in the third period and overtime. The Rats limited the Sound Tigers to 11 shots over the final 25 minutes, all of which Weiman handled.

"They did a good job of keeping (Bridgeport's forwards) to the outside," Weiman said of his defenders. "When I made a save and couldn't contain the rebound, they did a good job of clearing it."

"Weiman was unbelievable," said Rowe. "He's a money guy, and I told the guys that he would step up " not that (backup) Justin Peters can't do it, but he's a young guys and this is a tough time to put a young guy in."

Aucoin and Petruzalek helped Weiman out in the shootout by scoring on their attempts.

"A lot of times, I shoot (at the goaltender's) glove," said Aucoin of his shootout strategy. "But what I saw this time was he (Thompson) was really out there, so I decided to go five hole (between the goaltender's legs)."

Gregg Johnson converted on his third round attempt to pull Bridgeport within a goal before Carson sealed Albany's victory by making his shot.

"We watched him in practice, and I told my assistant that if we go into a shootout, he goes in," Rowe said of Carson.

Albany's playoff chances took a hit Sunday with a 5-1 loss at Hartford, but the Rats still hold an advantage over Bridgeport other than the one point separating the two teams " a better schedule. While Bridgeport travels to Wilkes Barre-Scranton and Hartford " two of the better teams in the AHL's Eastern Conference " Albany hosts last-place Binghamton Wednesday and Friday.

The Rats finish the season Saturday against third-place Norfolk, while the Sound Tigers get Philadelphia and Norfolk this weekend. That could lead to some scoreboard watching in Albany and Bridgeport, but the Rats said they will do their best to ignore what's happening in Connecticut.

"The last couple of weeks, we've done pretty good with not looking at the scoreboard until after we finish playing," said Aucoin.

For Albany's long-suffering hockey fans, though, they will be watching the out-of-town scoreboard closely. ""

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