BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, proud affiliate of the New York Islanders, fired 39 shots on goal Saturday night, but were silenced in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals by the Hershey Bears at Webster Bank Arena.
Vitek Vanecek (1-0) was lights out for the visitors en route to his first blank sheet in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Jeremy Smith (0-1) made 32 saves on 34 shots for the Sound Tigers in front of 5,002 fans.
Hershey received goals from Mike Sgarbossa and Riley Barber, while Matt Lorito launched a game-high seven shots on goal and hit the post once.
The best-of-five series is knotted at 1-1 and shifts to Pennsylvania for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
The Bears scored first for the second consecutive night, when Sgarbossa redirected home his first goal of the postseason at 11:15 of the opening frame. With heavy traffic in front of the net, Lucas Johansen received a pass on the left wing and sailed a wrist shot towards the crease that Sgarbossa deflected in from the back post to make it 1-0.
Despite being outshot 13-12 in the first period, the Sound Tigers logged their fair share of scoring chances. Lorito nicked the crossbar at the tail end of a busy shift alongside linemates Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows at 12:55. Later, Otto Koivula and Connor Jones both created high-percentage chances, but Vanecek met each shot with a pad save – two of his 12 saves in period.
Barber extended Hershey’s lead to 2-0 nearly four minutes into the second period. Sgarbossa and Barber entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush, before Barber finished the attack with a slick forehand-to-backhand move on a partial breakaway for his first of the playoffs. He led Hershey with a career-high 31 goals during the regular season.
The Sound Tigers made a push to even the game in the third period, mustering 18 shots to Hershey’s eight. They almost converted at the 13:06 mark when Vanecek carelessly left his crease to play the puck, and Kubiak’s shot was denied by a body in front.
While the Sound Tigers were unable to find twine, Smith continued to hold down the fort, denying Steve Whitney’s breakaway attempt at 7:22 of the third.
The Sound Tigers finished the night 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, 0-for-5 on the power play, and outshoot the Bears 39-34. Bridgeport’s penalty kill is 8-for-8 in the series.