BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (36-28-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, saw their playoff hopes come to an end on Saturday in a 4-2 loss against the Providence Bruins (43-24-3-2) in front of 4,658 fans at Webster Bank Arena.
Ryan Hitchcock and Jeff Kubiak each scored for the Sound Tigers, while Jeremy Lauzon, Colton Hargrove, Paul Postma and Austin Czarnik all tallied a goal for the Bruins.
Each team won six of the 12 meetings in the season series with the Sound Tigers going 6-5-1-0.
Providence got on the board first when Lauzon scored his first pro goal at 6:29 of the opening period. Cameron Hughes skated over Bridgeport’s blue line with speed and handed the puck to Lauzon down the left wing, where the rookie defenseman snuck a wrist shot between the near post and Christopher Gibson’s blocker. Gibson (19-12-3) finished the game with 19 saves on 23 shots.
The Sound Tigers tied the contest at 1-1 just past the six-minute mark of the middle frame while on the man advantage thanks to a Colby Cave high-sticking penalty. Mitch Vande Sompel collected the puck on the left wing boards, which drew all four Bruins in his direction and left Hitchcock alone in the right circle. Ryan Bourque forced a pass across the slot that Hitchcock slammed home past the glove of Binnington at 6:02. It was Hitchcock’s third goal in 12 pro games.
The Bruins regained the lead for good at 8:52 of the second period when Hargrove collected one of two power-play goals for the Bruins. With Vande Sompel in the box for hooking, Gibson blocked an initial shot from Adam Payerl, but the rebound skipped to Hargrove in front for the second-chance goal. It was his 16th of the season and seventh on the man advantage.
Postma netted the eventual game-winner at 17:05 of the middle frame with his first AHL goal this season. Jack Studnicka skated behind Gibson’s net and sent a pass to Hargrove, who set up Postma in the high slot for the drive that made it 3-1.
Czarnik put Providence on top by three with his team-leading 23rd goal of year and team-best 12th on the power play. Following a boarding penalty against Kyle Schempp, Tommy Cross settled the puck in the left circle and pumped but didn’t shoot. Instead, Cross quickly guided a cross-ice pass to Czarnik, who deposited a back-door feed into an empty net with Gibson out of position at 10:59 of the third.
Kubiak capped the scoring with his first AHL tally in the final 26 seconds. It was also Bridgeport’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season with Vande Sompel in the box for tripping. Kane Lafranchise sent the puck over the blue line and Kubiak raced onto it before filtering a sharp-angle shot past Jordan Binnginton’s blocker to make it 4-2. Binnington (17-8-1) had 23 saves in the Bruins’ win.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport outshot Providence 25-23.