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Steve Bernier scored his first two goals of the season on Friday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-4-1-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, couldn’t keep pace with the Springfield Thunderbirds (4-4-0-0) in a 7-4 loss at Webster Bank Arena. It was Bridgeport’s fourth straight setback and third in a row to the Thunderbirds, dating back to last season.
Sebastian Aho and Kyle Burroughs also found the back of the net, helping the Sound Tigers reach the four-goal mark for the second time this season. Meanwhile, Owen Tippett and Dominic Toninato each scored twice for the T-Birds.
Anthony Greco opened the scoring just 37 seconds into the game with a lightning-quick wrist shot from the right circle, putting it past Jared Coreau’s blocker in transition for his third goal of the 2019-20 campaign. However, the Sound Tigers didn’t take long to answer as the captain, Burroughs, netted his first goal of the season immediately after a draw. In addition, Ben Thompson registered his first point in his season debut with the primary assist.
Bridgeport took its first lead just over four minutes later when Bernier notched his first of two on the night, capitalizing on a giveaway to make it 2-1. T-Birds goaltender Chris Driedger attempted to play the puck behind his own cage but couldn’t avoid the aggressive fore-checking of Bernier, who put it in unchallenged with the backhand for his first point of the season.
Springfield bounced back and tied the game again thanks to Toninato’s first of two for the T-Birds. A lot of traffic surrounded the front of Coreau’s cage as the Thunderbirds came into the zone and Toninato picked up a loose puck in the scramble, knotting the game at 2-2 with a little over six minutes to play in the first period. Shots were 14-6 in favor of the visitors after one.
Tippett put the Thunderbirds out front 3-2 to open the second period as Coreau tried to play the puck off with his stick. It took a strange bounce and ended up right in the back of Bridgeport’s net to give the T-Birds the lead at 2:34 of the frame.
The Sound Tigers potted their first power-play goal on a 5-on-3 opportunity at 8:10 of the second period. Aho made the most of the chance as he put a one-time slap shot past Driedger to tie the game for the fourth time. It was Aho’s second of the season with Travis St. Denis and Nick Schilkey assisting.
With just 1:41 left in the middle frame, Tippett scored his second of the evening courtesy of a great drop pass from Kevin Roy, finishing between the circles. Just seconds later, the Thunderbirds nearly scored a buzzer beater with silky-smooth passing as Toninato beat Coreau’s blocker to make it 5-3.
Bernier got his second of the game at 5:50 of the third period. The puck dropped at the doorstep following a rebound on Seth Helgeson’s shot and the veteran forward buried it top shelf past Driedger to put Bridgeport within one.
It was seemingly a back-and-forth contest up until a key go-ahead goal broke the game open from Henrik Borgstrom at 14:07 of the third period. Tippett flew into the zone from the left wing, centered the puck, and Borgstrom capitalized to extend the Springfield lead to 6-4. Another 2-on-1 rush occurred nearly a minute later when Paul Thompson netted his first goal of the season thanks to a centering feed from Roy.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Coreau (0-4-0) made 34 saves on 41 shots, while Driedger (3-3-0) stopped 29 of the 33 chances he saw.