Islanders Clinch Playoff Berth on Friday NightApr 22, 2022
The Bridgeport Islanders (31-29-7-4, .514), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, punched their ticket to the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night with a 4-2 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds (39-23-6-3, .604) at Total Mortgage Arena.
Bridgeport clinched its first postseason appearance since 2018-19 with a victory in its penultimate game of the regular season, along with losses for both the Hartford Wolf Pack (30-32-6-2, .486) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-30-10-5, .479) on Friday.
Austin Czarnik broke a 2-2 tie with just 5:03 remaining in regulation, while Chris Terry, Cole Bardreau and Kyle MacLean also scored against the Thunderbirds. Cory Schneider (14-11-4) made 23 saves.
The Islanders outshot Springfield 17-12 in the opening 20 minutes, but gave up the first goal just 1:23 into the contest. Nathan Todd converted on a turnover in the Bridgeport zone, tapping home Nikita Alexandrov’s pass from the doorstep.
The Islanders tied the game at the 16:15 mark when Grant Hutton, in his first game back from his recent NHL stint, let go of a one-timer and MacLean deflected it past goaltender Charlie Lindgren (22-7-1) for his 10th of the season.
Terry followed up 45 seconds later to give Bridgeport the lead with his team-best 30th goal of the season. He entered the zone on a rush and saw his initial chance get stopped, but potted his own rebound at the 17:00 mark. Terry now has at least 30 goals in a single season on four occasions.
Will Bitten pulled the Thunderbirds back even at 2:12 of the second period when he batted a puck out of the air from close range. Alexandrov set him up with his second assist of the game and Bitten tallied his 12th goal of the year.
More than 30 minutes went by before the next goal, which was the eventual difference-maker at 14:57 of the third period. Czarnik set up on the power play and ripped home a one-time blast from the slot, orchestrated by Andy Andreoff to make it 3-2.
Bardreau capped the scoring with an empty-net tally in the final second to solidify the 4-2 final. It was Bardreau’s 14th goal of the season.
The Islanders finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. Lindgren finished with 30 saves for the Thunderbirds.
Next Time Out: The Islanders play their 72nd and final regular-season game tomorrow night, facing the Hartford Wolf Pack at 7 p.m. inside Total Mortgage Arena. It’s Fan Appreciation Night. The game can be heard online through the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, or seen via AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.