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 Bridgeport Islanders

Islanders Edge Comets, 2-1, in Shootout

March 22, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Bridgeport Islanders News Release

UTICA, N.Y. - Jakub Skarek was sensational, and Ruslan Iskhakov showcased another masterclass shootout move to lift the Bridgeport Islanders (21-33-6-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 2-1 victory over the Utica Comets (26-24-4-5) at the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday.

Skarek (7-19-5) turned aside 35 of 36 shots and made several highlight-reel glove saves in the third period. He then stuffed Kyle Criscuolo on a penalty shot 38 seconds into overtime to backstop his third win in his last four starts.

Julien Gauthier notched a game-tying, power-play goal midway through the second period, before Iskhakov became the only scorer in a three-round shootout. Iskhakov drifted wide right, darted straight at Utica's Nico Daws (1-2-1), then deked the Comets' netminder out of his skates on a backhand finish.

Skarek and Daws went toe-to-toe all night on Friday, and remained perfect for more than 31 minutes to begin the game. Graham Clarke broke the ice 11:54 into the second period with his team-leading 22nd goal of the season, from Xavier Parent and Ryan Schmelzer. On a rush in transition, Parent produced a rebound on a wrist shot from the left circle that Clarke finished on a second effort, in tight, past Skarek's extended pad.

Bridgeport quickly struck back when Gauthier scored his third goal in the last four games just 2:22 later. Austin Osmanski was called for holding and with about 30 seconds left on the power play, Gauthier snapped home a forehand shot from range following a pass from Alex Jefferies, who earned an assist in his professional debut. Jefferies finished his debut with one assist and two shots. Brian Pinho recorded the secondary helper against his former team, giving him seven points in his last eight contests (two goals, five assists).

The Comets outshot the Islanders 12-10 in a frantic third period that saw repeated key saves from both goalies. Utica also outshot Bridgeport 5-0 in overtime including Criscuolo's penalty shot 38 seconds in after he was hacked and held back on a breakaway. It was the first penalty shot against the Islanders this season.

Skarek ended the game and shootout with an aggressive poke check on Nolan Stevens in the bottom of the third round.

The Islanders improved to 9-7 beyond regulation and 2-1 in shootouts this season. Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, helping earn its first win of the road trip, which concludes tomorrow night in Allentown, Penn.

Next Time Out: The Islanders and Lehigh Valley Phantoms tangle at 7:05 p.m. inside PPL Center. Tomorrow's game can be seen live on or heard for free via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pregame Countdown at 6:45 p.m.

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