The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (16-12-2-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, collected all four possible points in two games last week, pushing their win streak to three in a row heading into the New Year. The Sound Tigers are fifth in the Atlantic Division as they embark on a three-game, 1,103-mile road trip to begin 2018.
Special teams were dominant last Wednesday and swiftly stole the headlines in a 3-1 victory against the Hershey Bears at Webster Bank Arena. The Sound Tigers' power play scored all three goals and the team was perfect on the penalty kill as Bridgeport returned from its brief holiday break with a win. It was the second time this season that Bridgeport has scored at least three times on the power play, with Scott Eansor, Michael Dal Colle and Tanner Fritz all capitalizing on the man advantage. Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (12-6-1) backstopped the effort with 21 saves on his 25th birthday. Gibson now sits sixth on the Sound Tigers' all-time wins list for goaltenders.
On Saturday, the Sound Tigers continued their stellar play on offense and Gibson earned his second shutout of the season in a 5-0 win against the Binghamton Devils at home. With the victory, the Sound Tigers closed out their 2017 calendar with a three-game win streak and points in each of their last four home games (3-0-1-0). Josh Ho-Sang, Kyle Schempp, Ryan Bourque, Travis St. Denis and Fritz found the back of the net and Gibson stopped all 19 shots he faced in his sixth career shutout. In addition, Bridgeport was strong on special teams yet again and went 1-for-4 on the power play, and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Next up, the Sound Tigers open a three-game, four-day tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (18-10-2-1) at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The journey then winds through the North Division for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the Rochester Americans (20-8-3-3) and Toronto Marlies (23-11-0-0), respectively. Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Wednesday, Jan. 3 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:05 p.m.) - The Sound Tigers are 1-1-0-0 against the Penguins this season following a 3-2 overtime win at Webster Bank Arena on Dec. 16. Devon Toews notched two points (one goal, one assist) and Sebastian Aho played hero with the game-winning goal just 26 seconds into the extra frame. Wednesday's matchup will mark the first of three meetings in Pennsylvania.
Friday, Jan. 5 at Rochester Americans (7:05 p.m.) - Bridgeport suffered a 4-1 setback to Rochester on Dec. 10 with Casey Bailey scoring the Sound Tigers' lone tally in the second period. The Sound Tigers can even the series on Friday, which will feature the first of two meetings in New York. Bridgeport went 1-0-1-0 at Blue Cross Arena last season.
Saturday, Jan. 6 at Toronto Marlies (4 p.m.) - The Sound Tigers travel north of the border for the first time this season for their only tilt in Toronto. Sunday's game will also mark the first of two matchups between the Sound Tigers and Marlies after Bridgeport swept the series (2-0-0-0) in 2016-17. However, Toronto is among the strongest teams in the AHL this season and is currently tied with Rochester for the top spot in the North Division.
News and notes:
Power Up: The Sound Tigers' power play has scored at least one goal in six straight games and eight of their last nine. That success has lifted Bridgeport to eighth in the AHL overall (19.9%) and fourth in the League at home (20.3%). The Sound Tigers are 11-for-41 (26.8%) on the power play since Dec. 9.
Killin' It: While Bridgeport's power play has quickly become one of the best in the AHL, its penalty kill may be even better. The Sound Tigers have not allowed a power-play tally since Dec. 10 against Rochester and is currently 29 for its last 29 (over a seven game span) - the second longest streak in franchise history. Bridgeport's penalty kill is fourth in the AHL overall (87.1%) and third in the League on the road (90.5%). The Sound Tigers have not allowed a power-play goal on the road since Dec. 1 at Utica.
Roster Shuffle: The transaction wire was extremely busy on New Year's Day as the Sound Tigers made several moves ahead of this week's road trip. Forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Steve Bernier were both sent to Bridgeport by the New York Islanders, while defenseman Mike Cornell was recalled from the Sound Tigers' ECHL affiliate, the Worcester Railers H.C. Beauvillier recorded seven points (four goals, three assists) in 31 games with the Islanders this season after spending 66 games with the club during his rookie season in 2016-17. Bernier also played four games with New York this season and Cornell led all Worcester defensemen in assists and was fifth on the team in scoring (15 points) in 28 games. In addition, third-year forward Tanner Fritz was rewarded with his first NHL call-up to the Islanders after leading the Sound Tigers in points (35), assists (25) and multi-point games (11) this season. Fritz also ranked fourth among all AHL players in points and assists.
Quick hits: Christopher Gibson is 4-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against-average over his last five appearances… Sebastian Aho, who continues to rank second among AHL defensemen in goals (nine), was recalled by the Islanders on Thursday and made his NHL debut on Sunday against Colorado… The Sound Tigers have scored at least five goals in nine games this season and their offense is up to ninth in the AHL (3.19 goals/game)… Devon Toews is fifth among AHL defensemen with 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 30 games, but missed his first pro game last Saturday with an upper-body injury.
Goals: Scott Eansor (13)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (25)*
Points: Tanner Fritz (35)*
Plus/minus: Kyle Burroughs (+14)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston (99)
Power-play goals: Scott Eansor (5)
Shots: Casey Bailey (101)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders (NHL)