BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-18-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a point for the fourth consecutive game in a 4-2 win over the Providence Bruins (25-16-6-1) at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday.
After going down 2-0 early in the second period, the Sound Tigers scored four unanswered goals from Sebastian Aho, John Stevens, Tanner Fritz and Otto Koivula to secure a split in the home-and-home series against the Bruins.
In the crease, Christopher Gibson (13-9-4) made 20 saves for his second straight win, while his counterpart Dan Vladar (7-9-4) stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced. The second-place Sound Tigers (60 points) used the victory to regain their three-point margin on third-place Providence (57 points) in the Atlantic Division standings.
Following a scoreless first period in which the Sound Tigers outshot the Bruins 8-5, Providence jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second frame, amidst 4-on-4 action. Emil Johansson capitalized after Kyle Cumiskey entered the zone, froze Gibson with a fake shot, and executed a drop pass. Johansson made no mistake finishing off the passing play at the right hash marks for his second goal of the season.
The P-Bruins extended their lead to 2-0 at the 5:22 mark when Cameron Hughes was the beneficiary of a tic-tac-toe passing play in the slot. Cumiskey connected with Johansson again, before Hughes one-timed a centering pass into the back of the cage for his 12th goal of the season.
On the ensuing shift, the Sound Tigers came back firing on all cylinders and quickly cut their deficit to one. Jeff Kubiak and Aho each had high-quality chances that Vladar made standout saves on, but Aho got the best of Vladar on the third scoring chance. Following the sustained zone pressure, Tanner Fritz created space at the right half-wall, took a look, and dished a cross-ice feed to Aho on his off-wing, who buried his fourth of the season at 7:00.
Bridgeport tied the game at 14:28 with Stevens’ first goal since returning from an off-season injury. Travis St. Denis created the chance when he pounced on Seth Helgeson’s rebound, before he took a slap shot that rung both posts. Stevens completed the frantic opportunity when he shoveled in his first of the season and his third point in five games.
The Sound Tigers continued to pour on the offense in the third period. Aho nearly notched his second of the night during an early 5-on-3 power play opportunity, but his one-timer from the point hit the crossbar and sailed up into the protective netting.
Fritz ultimately broke the stalemate at even strength to give Bridgeport a 3-2 lead at 10:24. After Chris Casto floated a shot on target from the point, the rebound squeaked out to Fritz, who poked it underneath Vladar for his 10th goal of the season. Fritz now has three-consecutive AHL seasons with 10 goals or more.
Providence pulled Vladar in the closing minutes and attempted a comeback, but was unable to break through Bridgeport’s defensive efforts. Koivula put the icing on the cake when he potted his 14th goal of the season into an empty net with 42 seconds remaining to solidify a 4-2 win.
The Sound Tigers went 0-for-4 on the power play and 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport also outshot Providence 26-22.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers complete their 3-in-3 weekend against the Utica Comets at 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Bridgeport will wear specialty gold and blue jerseys for “Stick It to Cancer” Weekend at Webster Bank Arena. The game will air across the Sound Tigers Radio Network and may be viewed live via AHLTV. Pre-game coverage is set to begin at 2:45 p.m.