BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (36-29-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, fired 43 shots at goaltender Anthony Peters on Sunday afternoon, but only John Stevens and Steve Bernier found the back of the cage in a 5-2 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (43-22-6-2) at Webster Bank Arena.
It was the ninth time this season the Sound Tigers have recorded 40 or more shots in a game, and the club is now 2-6-0-1 when doing so. Peters (11-7-3) made 41 saves in his first appearance since March 18 for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Adam Johnson opened the scoring with two goals in a span of 1:17 to put the Penguins on top 2-0 midway through the first period. The initial tally came on the power play with Josh Ho-Sang in the box for slashing, as Johnson received a pass from Kevin Czuczman on the right side and skated to the circle. He delayed and sent a wrist shot just over Eamon McAdam’s glove at 9:17.
Seventy-seven seconds later, Johnson tallied his 11th goal of the year and second of the period. Andrey Pedan caught Ryan Haggerty’s pass at the left point and fired a long slap shot that was blocked by McAdam, but the rebound trickled to the right of the crease where Johnson converted on a backhand attempt at the 10:34 mark.
The Penguins kept the peddle down and made it 3-0 at 12:41 of the opening frame courtesy of Christian Thomas’ 18th tally of the year. Tom Kostopoulos generated a 2-on-1 rush into Bridgeport’s zone and slowed down on the right wing, where he waited for Thomas. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain proceeded to flip a pass to the doorstep and the charging Thomas nudged it home on the backhand.
Patrick McGrath scored his second goal of the season at the 16:03 mark when he deflected Zach Trotman’s blast from the top of the right circle. Jarrett Burton swept the puck to Trotman from left-to-right and McGrath finished from the doorstep to cap a four-goal first period for the visitors. McAdam (5-2-0) was lifted after 20 minutes of work and suffered the loss with 10 saves on 14 shots.
The Sound Tigers began to chip away at 11:47 of the middle frame when Stevens collected his seventh goal of the season. Kyle Burroughs lifted the puck to the red line and Bernier angled it off the boards for Stevens, who rushed ahead on a two-on-one. Ryan Bourque was to his left, but the rookie forward took charge and guided a shot past Peters’ blocker to make it 4-1.
The Penguins responded at 8:01 of the third period to regain their four-goal advantage. Garrett Wilson shot the puck between the circles that Kristers Gudlevskis answered, but it trickled to his right and Gage Quinney deposited his 13th of the year.
Bernier crossed the 20-goal mark a little more than two minutes later to cap the scoring at 5-2. Tyler Mueller made a great play at the left point to keep the puck from escaping the zone and forced it back towards the net. Bernier was in front and following several unsuccessful attempts to punch it home, he finally beat Peters at the 10:19 mark.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport outshot Providence 43-27, while Gudlevskis made 12 saves on 13 shots in 39:33 of a no decision.
The contest included one tilt when Burroughs and McGrath dropped the gloves in the final seven seconds of the first period.