PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ben Holmstrom and Tanner Fritz each found the back of the net on Friday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (16-10-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, allowed three goals in the final five minutes and suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Providence Bruins (13-6-4-3) at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
All three Providence goals came in a span of 2:04 as Bridgeport suffered its third straight setback. The Bruins also jumped the Sound Tigers in the Atlantic Division standings, winning their fifth straight contest and recording at least one point for the 13th straight game (9-0-2-2).
Bridgeport dominated the first 40 minutes, recording two goals and outshooting the Bruins 20-9 at the second intermission. Holmstrom opened the scoring at 8:27 of the first period when he beat netminder Zane McIntyre from the bottom of the left circle. Ross Johnston fed the puck to Holmstrom, where the captain went blocker side at even strength for his second tally of the season. The Sound Tigers outshot Providence 13-5 in the first period.
Fritz doubled Bridgeport’s lead with a power-play goal at 10:26 of the middle frame. With Tommy Cross in the box for tripping, Devon Toews fired a shot from the blue line that McIntyre turned aside, but a scramble ensued before Fritz forced it home for his fourth power-play tally of the season, tied with Steve Bernier for the team lead. Travis St. Denis also earned an assist, while Fritz now has eight goals on the season overall.
The third period was quite different as the Bruins stunned the Sound Tigers with a trio of tallies to seal the win. Cross made it 2-1 at the 15:22 mark when he fired a snap shot from 60 feet that caromed off a Sound Tigers defenseman and past Stephon Williams’ glove.
Just over a minute later, reigning AHL goal-scoring champion Frank Vatrano evened things up with his first tally of the year, in his season debut. From the Providence zone, Alex Grant began a sequence of passes ahead before Peter Mueller found Vatrano over the blue line, who skated to the left hash marks and filtered a shot over Williams’ glove.
Peter Cehlarik capped the Bruins’ comeback 44 seconds later when he capitalized on the power play for his leading 12th goal of the season. Following a holding minor to Kyle Burroughs, Grant pushed the puck to the crease where Cehlarik battled through a scrambled to muscle the puck over the goal line. Cehlarik leads all AHL rookies in goals.
The game included one tilt when Ross Johnston dropped the gloves with Tyler Randell at the 12:00 mark of the opening frame.
The Sound Tigers finished the contest 1-for-6 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. McIntyre (6-0-0) made 29 saves in the Bruins’ win, while Williams (3-10-0) suffered the loss with 19 stops.
Bridgeport outshot Providence 31-22.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Syracuse Crunch. Fans can follow all of the live action via the team’s official on