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Tanner Fritz scored his second game-winner in as many days to push the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (28-18-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 5-4 overtime victory against the Utica Comets (26-19-4-2) on Sunday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena.
The Sound Tigers received goals from five different scorers overall – Fritz, Travis St. Denis, Otto Koivula, Steve Bernier and Ben Holmstrom – while the Comets boasted four separate goal-scorers in a back-and-forth affair. It was Bridgeport's 11th win beyond regulation, which leads the AHL, and finished the two-game season series 2-0-0-0 against Utica.
Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (14-9-4) made 29 saves on 33 shots for his 14th win of the season, while Ivan Kulbakov made 27 saves for the Comets.
The Sound Tigers picked up right where they left off following Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Providence Bruins, scoring just 4:28 into Sunday's matinee. St. Denis put Bridgeport up 1-0 after Chris Bourque poked Koivula's centering feed from below the goal line over to St. Denis, who wired a slap shot over Kulbakov's left shoulder. Bourque's primary assist extended his point streak to four games.
Just over five minutes later, St. Denis took a slashing penalty to put Utica on the power play. On the man advantage, the Comets answered at the 10:35 mark when Tanner Kero deflected Reid Boucher's shot for his 18th of the season, which tied the game at 1-1.
The Sound Tigers recaptured their lead when the Bourque, Koivula and St. Denis line combined for its second goal of the afternoon at 15:46. The play started in Bridgeport's defensive zone, where Bourque made an outlet pass to St. Denis before chipping the puck to a rushing Koivula. On a partial breakaway, Koivula used his lengthy frame to protect the puck, then snapped a shot off the bar and in for his 15th goal of the season.
Utica made the most of its third power play during the second period, as Luke Scehnn tied the contest at 2-2 at the 12:00 mark. Jonathan Dahlen and Schenn played catch at the blue line, until Schenn fired a one-timer past Gibson for his first goal as a Comet in his sixth game since being traded from Anaheim.
Late in the middle frame, Bernier gave the Sound Tigers their third one-goal advantage with his 16th of the season to make it 3-2. At 16:13, Sebastian Aho froze a defender at the point with a fake slap shot, walked to the top of the left circle, and threw a shot on net that Bernier tipped before it found twine.
Once again, Utica answered to tie the game when the club converted at even strength at 5:32 of the third period. Dahlen earned his second goal in as many nights by backhanding Brendan Woods' centering feed over Gibson's right shoulder to make it 3-3.
The Comets established their first lead of the afternoon less than two minutes later when Brendan Gaunce forced a turnover in Bridgeport's zone and slid a backhander into the back of the net while the Sound Tigers operated on the power play. The shorthanded marker puts Gaunce (three) is second place in that category among all AHL players.
The back-and-forth contest continued when Holmstrom deflected Chris Casto's point shot past Kulbakov at 10:58 of the third to tie the game at 4-4. The Sound Tigers took the tied score into their 17th overtime of this 2018-19 campaign and closed out the last game of their 3-in-3 on a high note. At 2:28 into the extra frame, Matt Lorito and Tanner Fritz capitalized on a 2-on-1 opportunity.
Lorito, in his Bridgeport debut, entered the zone on the right side and dished a pass to Fritz, who hammered a one-timer home to solidify the 5-4 victory.
Bridgeport ended the night 0-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill, while Utica outshot the Sound Tigers 33-32.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers take to the road next Friday, where they will face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05 p.m. inside the PPL Center. The game will air across the Sound Tigers Radio Network and may be viewed live via AHLTV. Pre-game coverage is set to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers 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 (Mar. 17) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will also be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24).
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]