Kuhnhackl scores twice and adds an assist as Bridgeport hands Springfield its first regulation loss this season
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Tom Kuhnhackl scored twice and added an assist on Saturday, steering the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (5-5-1-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 5-2 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds (7-1-2-0) at Webster Bank Arena. Aside with Kuhnhackl, the Sound Tigers had three other multi-point scorers and converted twice on the power play to hand Springfield its first regulation loss this season.
Michael Dal Colle (one goal, one assist), Josh Ho-Sang (one goal, one assist), and Mike Sislo (one goal, one assist), also found the back of the net, while Jeremy Smith (2-2-1) made 24 saves on 26 shots. Meanwhile, Kuhnhackl's three-point performance was his third in the AHL and his first since Nov. 4, 2015. His Bridgeport debut on Saturday, which followed a loan from the Islanders last Thursday, was his first AHL game since Jan. 5, 2016.
After posting 42 shots in Friday's loss at Springfield, the Sound Tigers picked up right where they left off and came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. However, it took a couple of close calls before Bridgeport finally opened the scoring in Saturday night's rematch.
At 8:52 of the first period, Sislo thought he scored after finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play between Devon Toews and Kuhnackl as they entered the zone. While the Bridgeport faithful celebrated the game's (near) first goal, Sislo's quick tap-in was ultimately waved off as the puck was wedged within goalie Chris Driedger's pads and not completely over the line.
Less than two minutes later, Ludwig Bystrom took a hooking penalty to put Bridgeport on the power play. Dal Colle rang the cross bar with a shot from the left circle and the rebound popped out to Travis St. Denis, who slipped the puck into the open net with his skate, but after further review the goal was called back due to an apparent kicking motion at 10:16.
On the following shift, the Sound Tigers rejoiced when Dal Colle made it 1-0 with his fourth goal of the season. Ho-Sang blasted a one-timer on net and Steve Bernier found the rebound at his feet before making a quick, no-look pass to Dal Colle in the slot, who made no mistake finding twine.
Shortly after, St. Denis took a tripping penalty behind the Thunderbirds' net and Springfield capitalized on the power play to make it 1-1. At the tail end of Springfield's man advantage, Anthony Greco directed a shot on target that bounced off Jayce Hawryluk's skate, right onto Dryden Hunt's stick in the slot, and across the goal line at the 14:16 mark.
Following back-and-forth play to start the middle frame, the Sound Tigers regained the lead midway through the period when Sislo potted his fourth goal of the season. Kuhnhackl dropped his shoulder and powered his way below the goal line before leaving a centering pass in the slot, where Sislo snapped a quick wrister below Driedger's blocker at 8:40.
Less than five minutes later, Ian McCoshen and Joel Lowry took consecutive penalties, 28 seconds apart, to give the Sound Tigers an elongated 5-on-3 power-play opportunity. On the two-man advantage, Ho-Sang pounced on a loose puck that followed Dal Colle's initial one-timer and the third-year forward buried his first goal of the season to give Bridgeport a 3-1 lead at 13:27.
While Ho-Sang earned his second consecutive multi-point game with the tally, Dal Colle's assist gave him a team-leading 10 points this season.
Kuhnhackl made it 4-1 at 18:25 of the second period and scored his first as a Sound Tiger in style. After catching a loose puck in the neutral zone, Kuhnhackl made a slick between-the-legs move around a Thunderbirds defenseman, took a backhand shot on Driedger, and then tapped home his own rebound to extend Bridgeport's lead.
The only scoring of the third period occurred seconds apart with Lowry scoring on the power play and Kuhnhackl netting his second of the night at even strength. First at 12:26, Lowry deflected a Patrick Bajkov shot from the doorstep that barely squeaked through the wickets of Smith to cut the Thunderbirds deficit to 4-2. It came with Kieffer Bellows in the box for hooking.
Twenty-three seconds later, Kuhnhackl made it 5-2 when he turned on the jets and received a stretch-pass from Sislo to set up a breakaway. Kuhnhackl collected the puck, finessed in the slot, and tucked home a chance in front with his backhand. St. Denis also picked up an assist on the play, giving him his five points in as many games.
The Sound Tigers went 2-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-7 on the penalty kill, while Driedger (2-1-1) made 29 saves on 34 shots.
The physical game also included two fights as tempers boiled over on more than several occasions. Kyle Burroughs and Lowry dropped the gloves at 19:47 of the second period before Seth Helgeson and Bobby Farnham engaged at 13:16 of the third.
Next time Out: The Sound Tigers host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the first time this season tomorrow afternoon with a 3 p.m. puck drop at Webster Bank Arena to conclude their three-game weekend series. Fans can follow all of the live action via AHLTV and the Sound Tigers Radio Network, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
Peppa Pig and the PJ Masks: The Sound Tigers are excited to welcome Peppa Pig and the PJ Masks to Webster Bank Arena tomorrow afternoon! The cheeky Peppa Pig and her brother George, from the hit Nickelodeon television show Peppa Pig, will join everyone's favorite heroes from the hit Disney Junior show PJ Masks on the concourse beginning at 2 p.m. Each character will meet fans and take pictures.
All fans are also encouraged to take advantage of a special ticket package that offers significant value for this added promotional event, including access to the game, a toy mask to wear, an activity packet, a pack of crayons, and entry to a pre-game meet-and-greet with Peppa Pig, George and the PJ Masks beginning a full hour earlier at 1 p.m. Additional meet and greets will be available during the game for regular ticket holders. For tickets or more information, please contact the Sound Tigers group sales hotline at 203-345-2300 ext. 7.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Hockey and Hops (Nov. 23 and Mar. 17), Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24), while other new headliners include Holiday Gift Weekend (Dec. 15-16) and a revamped Teddy Bear Toss (Nov. 23). View the full 2018-19 promotional schedule.
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
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