PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Tanner Fritz scored twice and Stephon Williams made 32 saves as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (19-15-1-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a 5-3 win over the Providence Bruins (22-10-4-3) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday.
Steve Bernier added his team-leading seventh power play goal of the season, and Travis St. Denis and Ross Johnston also scored. The win snapped Bridgeport’s two-game slide and gives the team at least one point in four of its last five games.
Providence had only lost three games in regulation since Nov. 18.
Despite an unsuccessful power play in the first four minutes, Bridgeport jumped out to an early two-goal lead with a pair of even-strength tallies 41 seconds apart. Johnston opened the scoring at 12:40 of the first period when he capitalized on a second-chance opportunity from the doorstep. Kane Lafranchise was denied by goaltender Anton Khudobin on a shot from the blue line, but the rebound caromed to the top of the crease where Johnston finished for his fourth goal of the season.
Fritz delivered his 10th goal of the year at the 13:21 mark when he beat Khudobin on a 2-on-1 rush. Connor Jones nudged the puck to Andrew Rowe in the neutral zone, setting up the odd-man attack. From the left wing, Rowe slid a pass to Fritz in the right circle for the finish.
The Bruins got one back at 19:31 of the first period courtesy of Colby Cave on the power play. With Pat Cullity in the box for closing his hand on the puck, Peter Cehlarik filtered a diagonal pass to the left post where Cave forced it past Williams’ right leg.
St. Denis made it 3-1 at 4:19 of the middle frame when he blew a snap shot past Khudobin’s blocker from the left circle for his seventh goal of the season. However, Providence bounced back with the next two goals to even things up late in the second period. Zac Rinaldo logged his fourth goal of the season at the 16:05 mark, cleaning up a centering feed from Chris Porter. The latter settled the puck at the right post and backhanded a pass to the doorstep for Rinaldo.
Sean Kuraly made it 3-3 when he scored a shorthanded goal at 18:42 that was initially waved off. Following an interference minor to Peter Mueller, Kuraly received a pass from Jordan Szwarz in the high slot and hammered a one-timer at Williams. The Sound Tigers netminder made the initial save, but the rebound trickled behind him and across the goal line. It was officially ruled a goal following video replay.
Sixty-five seconds later, tensions hit the boiling point when Ben Holmstrom and Szwartz dropped the gloves directly after a faceoff in the Bruins’ zone. Each player was also given a game misconduct due to revised league rules over the offseason regarding “staged fights.”
Bernier put the Sound Tigers ahead for good at 19:47 of the second period, recording a power-play tally on the same penalty as Kuraly’s shorthanded goal. Jon Landry and Josh Winquist teamed up to find Bernier at the side of the crease, where the veteran angled a shot under Khudobin’s blocker for his 13th goal of the season.
The only tally of the third period was an empty netter from Fritz in the final 18 seconds, his 11th goal of the season.
Both teams finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play, while Providence outshot Bridgeport 35-28. Khudobin (5-1-1) made 23 saves in his first regulation loss this season.