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THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers continue a four-game road trip this weekend with their first visit to Canada, featuring a 7 p.m. contest against the Belleville Senators on Friday and a 4 p.m. tilt against the Laval Rocket on Saturday afternoon. The Sound Tigers are looking for their second straight win after shutting out the Providence Bruins on Monday in Rhode Island. Christopher Gibson made 32 saves for his second shutout in his last three starts, while rookies Simon Holmstrom and Arnaud Durandeau each scored in a 2-0 victory.
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TIGERS VS. B-SENS
Tonight's game is the second and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Rocket this season, and the only matchup at CAA Arena. Belleville won the first battle last Sunday with a 2-1 victory at Webster Bank Arena, led by goals from Max Veronneau and Morgan Klimchuk, and 27 saves from Marcus Hogberg. Andrew Ladd scored Bridgeport's lone tally in the final game of his conditioning loan from the New York Islanders. The Sound Tigers went 2-0-0-0 against Belleville last season, including a 2-1 win in Canada on Nov. 17. In fact, the Sound Tigers had never lost to the Belleville Senators (4-0-0-0) and hadn't been beaten in regulation by Ottawa’s AHL affiliate since Jan. 17, 2014 prior to Sunday's setback.
VIEW FROM BELLEVILLE
The Senators have won three straight games and have points in five straight (4-0-1-0) following their 5-4 oT victory against the Laval Rocket on Wednesday. Max Veronneau scored for the second straight contest and added an assist, while Josh Norris (1g, 1a), Alex Formenton (GWG, 1a), Drake Batherson (1g, 1a) and Jordan Szwarz (2a) also had a multi-point night. Batherson is tied for sixth in the AHL's scoring race (6g, 9a) and ranks fifth in shots (55), while Norris is tied for fourth among AHL rookies with 10 points (5g, 5a) and is second among rookies in shots (40). Belleville opens a three-game homestand tonight.
TIGERS VS. ROCKET
The Sound Tigers will face Montreal's affiliate, the Laval Rocket, for the first time this season on Saturday at 4 p.m. It will be the first of two meetings this season and the only matchup at Place Bell in Quebec. The Sound Tigers went 2-0-0-0 against the Rocket last season, including a 2-1 shootout win in Canada on Nov. 16. Kieffer Bellows' first career shootout tally was the winner.
VIEW FROM LAVAL
The Rocket are off to a strong start this season and enter the weekend on an eight-game point streak (6-0-2-0). The first-place team in the North Division has 20 points in its first 16 games, including one point in a 5-4 overtime loss to Belleville in its last outing on Wednesday. Charles Hudon scored a hat trick and Cayden Primeau had 20 saves. Alex Belzile currently leads Laval with 11 points (6g, 5a) in 16 games, while defenseman Xavier Ouellet paces all AHL blue-liners with 53 shots. The Rocket will conclude a three-game homestand against the Sound Tigers on Saturday.
STARTS WITH SHOTS
One of the key focuses for improvement early in the season has been to produce more shots on goal. The Sound Tigers were better at that on Monday with a season-high 35 shots on target, but the club is still last in the league in shots per game on average (26.38). They outshot Providence by a two-to-one margin in the second period and were aided by several strong power-play opportunities.
Four of the Sound Tigers’ last five goals have been scored by American Hockey League rookies. The youth movement recently included tallies from Simon Holmstrom, Oliver Wahlstrom, Nic Pierog and Arnaud Durandeau, with Holmstrom’s three goals on the season leading the way for Bridgeport rookies. Holmstrom is tied for 17th among first-year AHL players in goals. Meanwhile, Wahlstrom has five points (2g, 3a) in just seven games with Bridgeport this season in addition to playing nine contests with the Islanders.
GIBSON'S GREAT STRETCH
Christopher Gibson has blanked opponents in two of his last three starts, a 21-save effort on Nov. 6 against Springfield and a 32-save performance last Monday. He is now second in Sound Tigers' history in shutouts (nine) and has 11 in his professional career. Gibson is also tied for second place on Bridgeport's all-time wins list with 69 (tying Kevin Poulin). He ranks seventh among all AHL netminders in goals-against-average (1.98) and 10th in save percentage (.930).
Andrew Ladd was placed on waivers by the New York Islanders on Thursday at noon... He scored one goal in five games with Bridgeport during a conditioning loan that ended last Sunday against Belleville... Grant Hutton has missed each of the last seven games with a lower-body injury... Bridgeport has scored two goals or fewer in eight of its last nine games… Durandeau’s first-period goal on Monday afternoon was his first professional game-winner... The Sound Tigers’ penalty kill on the road is seventh in the AHL (88.6%).
NHL: New York Islanders (13-3-1) - Next: Saturday at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (4-7-0-0) - Next: Sunday vs. Brampton Beast, 2 p.m. ET