The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, beat the Hartford Wolf Pack 6-3 on the road Saturday on the strength of a 42-save performance by goaltender Wade Dubielewicz, who is unbeaten-in-regulation in his last four outings at 3-0-0-1.
With Saturday's win, the Sound Tigers pulled to within three points of the third-place Norfolk Admirals while increasing their lead on the fifth-place Binghamton Senators to nine points in the race for the four playoff spots in the AHL's East Division.
The Sound Tigers grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of hard-work goals 1:11 apart just past the mid-point of the opening period. Evgeny Tunik jammed home his fourth of the season at the 11:44 mark off an assist from Mike Omicioli, and Steve Regier tallied for the second time in as many games and 15th time this season at 12:55 off assists from Cole Jarrett and Rob Collins. Tunik scored off a tough-angle shot from the left corner while Regier tallied off a similar feed from the right side.
The Sound Tigers upped their lead to 4-0 with goals on both ends of a five-on- three power play in a 1:05 span late in the first. Matt Koalska made it 3-0 with his 18th of the season at 17:00 pulling the rebound of an Allan Rourke shot from below the goal to roof the puck just under the cross bar with Steve Regier collecting the second helper. David Masse then baseball-batted home a knee-high puck for his 16th of the year at the 18:05 mark off assists from Koalska and Masi Marjamaki.
Hartford pulled to within 4-1 when Martin Sonnenberg redirected a centering feed from just above the crease for his 13th goal of the season off assists from Marvin Degon and Martin Grenier with 54.8 seconds left in the first period.
The Wolf Pack replaced starting netminder Al Montoya, who stopped ten of 14 shots, with Robert Gherson to start the middle frame, but the Sound Tigers went back ahead by four goals when Allan Rourke scored his eighth of the season off a feed from Collins at the 3:09 mark.
Hartford cut the lead to three again, this time at 5-2, with 1:40 left in the second period when Colby Genoway chipped home a rebound on the power play for his 25th marker of the year off assists from Dwight Helminen and Nigel Dawes.
The Wolf Pack pulled to within 5-3 with 8:21 left in the third period when Hugh Jessiman scored his fifth goal of the season off assists from Lee Falardeau and Craig Weller.
Hartford pulled Gherson in favor of an extra attacker with 2:18 left to play, but Collins, who returned from emergency recall to the Islanders just before the game, iced the win with an empty-net goal, his 20th overall on the season, off assists from Ryan Caldwell and Harlan Pratt with 1:33 left to play to make it 6-3. Caldwell is now on a three-game assist streak while Collins is on a two-game goal streak and a five-game point streak.
Rourke was named the first star of the game, Collins the second and Dubielewicz the third. The Sound Tigers were 2 for 3 on the power play while the Wolf Pack were 1 for 2 and had a 45-28 shots on goal advantage. Gherson finished with 12 saves on 13 shots for Hartford.
The Sound Tigers will finish a three-game weekend road trip, as well as a stretch of seven straight road contests when they visit the Springfield Falcons tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. The Sound Tiger's next home game at Bridgeport's Arena at Harbor Yard will be this Wednesday, March 29th when they host the Hershey Bears at 7:05 p.m.
All Sound Tigers games are web-cast live at www.soundtigers.com. Fans can also watch all AHL games live on the Internet via the B2 Networks pay per view. Information regarding Sound Tigers ticket packages, promotions and upcoming games is available on-line at www.soundtigers.com, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 203-334-GOAL.