BRIDGEPORT, CT - Travis St. Denis scored twice on Saturday and led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (8-7-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 5-2 victory against the Charlotte Checkers (10-7-0-0) at Webster Bank Arena.
Casey Bailey, Connor Jones and Devon Toews also found the back of the net, while Christopher Gibson (5-4-0) made 14 saves in his third consecutive start. Gibson has now won five of his last six outings.
The Sound Tigers improved to 2-1-0-0 against the Checkers this season and the win was also Bridgeport’s first ever against Charlotte at Webster Bank Arena. The two teams hadn’t met in the Park City since March 18, 2011.
Bailey opened the scoring at 6:06 of the first period when he redirected a cross-ice pass from Michael Dal Colle to make it 1-0. Toews slipped the puck to Dal Colle at the left point, where the second-year forward hit Bailey in stride with a pass near the right hash marks for a deflection past goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.
Just 80 seconds later, St. Denis made it 2-0 when he buried a highlight-reel backhand shot from the right post. Mitch Vande Sompel filtered a pass to the doorstep, where St. Denis gathered a bouncing puck and flipped it over Nedeljkovic’s glove, top sheft, from a difficult angle.
The Checkers battled back at 12:42 of the first period with their first of two power-play goals to make it 2-1. Aleksi Saarela capitalized from the top of the left circle with a pin-point snap shot past Gibson’s blocker for his fourth tally of the season. John Stevens was in the box for slashing.
Jones answered just 41 seconds into the middle frame when he gathered Kyle Schempp’s pass in the neutral zone, skated to the right circle and fired a wrist shot past Nedeljkovic. Vande Sompel also collected his second helper of the night for a multi-point effort. Toews followed with his third goal in two games when he finished a broken play at the doorstep to make it 4-1. Tanner Fritz joined the second-year defenseman on a rush into the Checkers zone, and Fritz’s right-to-left pass was nearly broken up. However, Toews kept with it and guided a bouncing puck in the crease past Nedeljkovic’s glove hand.
Charlotte cut its deficit to a pair at 11:00 of the third period when Valentin Zykov scored on the power play to make it 4-2. With Kyle Burroughs in the box for hooking, Andrew Poturalski set up on the left wing and advanced a pass to the doorstep, where Zykov jammed it past Gibson’s right leg for his team-leading 10th tally of the season.
St. Denis sealed the victory at 17:44 of the third period with an empty-net tally for the 5-2 final. It was his second career two-goal performance and his first since last December.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport outshot Charlotte 28-15, while Nedeljkovic (7-2-0) made 23 saves in the setback.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow afternoon with a 3 p.m. puck drop against the Springfield Thunderbirds at Webster Bank Arena. Sunday 4-Packs are available, which include four (4) tickets, four (4) hot dogs, four (4) bags of chips, four (4) fountain drinks and four (4) fidget spinners starting at just $99. Great seats are still available and fans can also follow all of the action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live.com, beginning with the pre-game show at 2:45 p.m.