Islanders Sweep Bruins with 2-1 OT WinMay 4, 2022
Party like it’s 2003.
The Bridgeport Islanders won a playoff series for the first time in 19 years, sweeping the Providence Bruins in a best-of-three series after posting a 2-1 OT win on Wednesday night at Total Mortgage Arena.
Aatu Raty’s first goal in North America was the OT winner, as the New York Islanders' 2021 second-round pick scored at 12:53 of the extra frame. Michael Dal Colle scored a power-play goal in the third period, while Cory Schneider stopped 29 of 30 shots in the win.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson said. “These young guys are going through playoff intensity. It shows that they can win a series and know what it takes to actually get that win under their belt and move on.”
The playoff series win was Bridgeport’s first since sweeping the Manchester Monarchs in a best-of-five series on April 18, 2003. The Islanders will take on the Charlotte Checkers in the Atlantic Division Semifinals in a best-of-five series, starting on May 10. The Islanders and Checkers each won four of the eight regular-season matchups.
“It’s big, but at the end of the day it’s just a baby step,” Dal Colle said. “We have a lot more to accomplish. I think everyone in the room is confident that we can go on a run here. We feel good right now. It's a great team effort. With goaltending like that, we will have a chance against anyone. [Schneider] played unbelievable in both games. A lot to look forward to with Charlotte and it's going to be a good series.”
While Wednesday’s game marked a milestone for Bridgeport, it also marked one for Raty, whose first goal in North America was a big one. The 19-year-old – who was about five months old the last time Bridgeport won a playoff round – was playing in his fourth game with the Islanders after coming stateside on April 19. The highly-touted Finn beat Providence netminder Troy Grosenick low to the glove side after taking a feed from Kyle MacLean.
“I'm excited for him obviously being rewarded,” Thompson said. “Since he's been here he’s working extremely hard. He has a great shot, a great release and he comes across the blueline tonight and got rewarded by putting the puck to the net in the right spot. He had a number of chances earlier, mostly to be shooting at high and wide and he dialed it down. I thought he did a nice job.”
Raty’s goal put an exclamation point on a tense, testy and stingy game between the Atlantic Division rivals. The two teams combined for 10 power plays (five apiece) and that led to plenty of white-knuckle moments in the low-scoring affair.
Bridgeport’s power play came through in the third period, as Dal Colle posted up in the slot and deposited a Chris Terry rebound past Grosenick at 3:29. While the Islanders opened up a 10-1 shot advantage midway through the third period, Providence did not go away quietly, as Nick Wolff evened the score at 13:14.
Wolff’s goal was the lone blemish on an otherwise sterling night for Schneider, who bailed out Bridgeport at key moments throughout the game. The 36-year-old netminder stopped Marc McLaughlin on a point-blank shorthanded chance in the first period and made a scrambling save on his back in the second in what he described as his best Dominik Hasek impression. In OT, Schneider made a key save on Jack Studnicka, while Bridgeport captain Seth Helgeson made a sliding block on Samuel Asselin to return the favor for his goaltender. In total, Schneider stopped 75-of-77 shots in the two games.
With the first round series in the books, the Islanders shift their focus ahead to the Checkers. Game 1 goes on Tuesday, May 10 in Bridgeport.
“We were confident going into the series,” Dal Colle said. “I think we play in probably one of the best divisions in the league. We felt confident against anyone and we have a deep roster. We have some veterans, we have some young guys and we have a good mix of players. It's great to see. Our veterans showed up and our young guys showed up as well… It's a confidence booster."