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Devon Toews scored his fifth goal of the season and Kieffer Bellows notched the game-winner in a four-round shootout as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (10-5-2-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, edged the Laval Rocket (7-8-2-0) in a 2-1 final at Place Bell on Friday.
The two clubs carried a scoreless deadlock well into the final frame before Bridgeport converted on a lengthy 5-on-3 power play midway through the third. Jeremy Smith (5-2-1) backstopped the win with 25 saves on 26 shots.
With the victory, the Sound Tigers extended their unbeaten in regulation streak to a season-high seven games (6-0-1-0) and snapped a three-game slide on the road.
Smith and Rocket netminder Charlie Lindgren headlined the first 40-plus minutes with several quality saves to keep the game scoreless entering the third. Bridgeport outshot Laval 17-13 in the first two periods, but neither team could break the ice.
The Sound Tigers struck first at 7:23 of the final frame when Toews went top shelf for his 11th point (four goals, seven assists) in the last eight games. Following penalties 49 seconds apart against Daniel Audette (high-sticking) and Michael Chaput (cross-checking), Bridgeport gained the blue line and set up shop in the offensive zone. Chris Bourque occupied the left point and directed a pass to Josh Ho-Sang below the circle, where he opened up and slid a pass to the slot. It deflected off of Tanner Fritz's skate and over to Toews, who fired it bar-down over Lindgren's blocker.
Toews continues to rank fourth among all AHL defensemen with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) and is tied for 10th in the League overall this season. Meanwhile, Ho-Sang's helper was his team-leading 15th this year, which is tops among all AHL forwards.
Bridgeport held it's one-goal lead into the final minutes of regulation, before the Rocket brought Lindgren to the bench for an extra attacker at the 17:24 mark. Their patience and relentless pressure paid off inside the final 36 seconds when Jake Evans settled a pass from Audette in the left circle and funneled a wrist shot through traffic and past Smith to erase his near-perfect performance. It was Evans' team-leading sixth goal of the season, which came at 19:24.
Following a scoreless overtime session, Bellows potted the only tally out of eight skaters in the shootout and propelled the Sound Tigers to their 10th win of the year.
Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-7 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Lindgren (6-6-2) made 26 saves on 27 shots for Laval.
The contest also included one fight at 12:00 of the second period when Parker Wotherspoon dropped the gloves with Michael McCarron for his first tilt of the season.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers complete a three-game road trip tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Belleville Senators at CAA Arena. 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.
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).
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.
About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Founded in 2001, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Hockey Club is the top minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. Don't miss your chance to take part in the family fun entertainment happening every home game at Webster Bank Arena. For further information on ticket or sponsorship opportunities, call our office at (203) 345-2300 or e-mail [email protected]