Jared Coreau stopped 39 shots on Sunday afternoon and was 83 seconds from his first shutout of the season as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6-11-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a 3-1 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds (12-9-0-0) at Webster Bank Arena.
Arnaud Durandeau and Andrew Ladd scored 10 seconds apart in the opening three minutes to help the Sound Tigers lead nearly wire-to-wire. John Stevens added his first goal of the season late in the third period, while Coreau (1-6-1) was miraculous from start to finish in his first win with the team. He traded his 18th career shutout for a chance at a “goalie goal,” shooting at Springfield’s empty net in the final two minutes, which was notched down and put into Bridgeport’s cage by Kevin Roy.
It was the Sound Tigers’ second straight win following a 3-2 victory against the Hershey Bears on Saturday and evened their season series with Springfield at 2-2-0-0.
The Sound Tigers’ first shot of the game crossed the goal line when Durandeau deflected Parker Wotherspoon’s chance from the point just 2:08 in. It was Durandeau’s fourth goal of the season on just nine shots, leading all rookies in the AHL in shooting percentage (44.4%).
Ten seconds later, a bad turnover in the T-Birds’ zone helped to double the Sound Tigers’ lead as Ladd scored his second goal in as many days. Thomas Schemitsch tried to advance the puck to Henrik Borgstrom deep in the Springfield end, but the puck hopped his stick and came right to Ladd, where he cashed in from the low slot. Ladd has four goals in 10 games with Bridgeport this season.
The two quick goals marked just the third time this season the Sound Tigers had a two-goal lead in a game. It was even more impressive considering Springfield’s Chris Driedger came into this game leading the AHL in both goals against average and save percentage.
Coreau and Bridgeport’s defense continued to play strong as the second period began, allowing only eight shots in the frame to preserve their lead. At the 13:30 mark, Mason Jobst was sprung for a partial breakaway that Driedger denied with his right pad just as Jobst tried to go top shelf on the backhand.
Stevens pushed the Sound Tigers’ advantage to 3-0 at 15:05 of the third period when he collected his first goal of the year shortly after exiting the penalty box. Colin McDonald charged down the right wing and ripped a shot at Driedger’s pads that was kicked away, but the rebound hit Stevens’ body and went in.
With just 1:23 left in regulation, the T-Birds ended Coreau’s shutout bid as Roy scored his third goal of the season on a late power play. Springfield also pulled Driedger for the two-man advantage and Coreau grabbed a loose puck behind his net and attempted a 200-foot goalie goal that was intercepted.
Bridgeport finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Driedger (6-8-0) made 37 saves on 40 shots.