Preview: Islanders vs. Thunderbirds

Preview: Islanders vs. Thunderbirds

Feb 2, 2024


The Bridgeport Islanders (12-24-5-0) host the Springfield Thunderbirds (20-18-3-2) for the second time in three nights, and are looking to piece together back-to-back wins at home for the first time this season. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. inside Total Mortgage Arena. The Islanders defeated the Thunderbirds 3-1 on Wednesday, led by multi-point performances from Jeff Kubiak (1g, 1a), Cole Bardreau (1g, 1a), and Eetu Liukas (2a). The game-winning goal went to Carsen Twarynski at 9:17 of the third period, his first goal with the team. It was Bridgeport’s first win this season when trailing after the first period, and its third when trailing after two (also Nov. 5th vs. Springfield and Dec. 16th at Charlotte).


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Tonight’s game is the ninth of 12 meetings between the Islanders and Thunderbirds this season, and the fifth of six in Connecticut. Bridgeport is 4-2-2-0 against the St. Louis Blues’ affiliate and has points in all four matchups at Total Mortgage Arena (3-0-1-0). Otto Koivula has a team-leading eight points (2g, 6a) in the series, while five of Jeff Kubiak’s seven goals this season have come against the T-Birds. Four of the eight meetings have gone to overtime.



Thunderbirds captain Matthew Peca scored his 10th goal of the season 4:09 into Wednesday’s game, but it wasn’t enough as Springfield fell to 6-12-1-0 on the road. The Thunderbirds have lost five straight road games and have scored just one goal in each of their last three. Springfield dropped to sixth place in the Atlantic Division and is four points ahead of Lehigh Valley for the final playoff spot. AHL All-Star Adam Gaudette, who was returned from the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday morning, continues to lead all AHL players in goals (24) and shares 14th in the league’s scoring race (36 points). Gaudette has four points (1g, 3a) in eight games against the Islanders this season.



A pair of forwards are expected to hit milestones tonight, as William Dufour is set to play his 100th pro game and Kyle MacLean will play his 200th pro game. Dufour, who celebrated his 22nd birthday last Sunday, is second on the Islanders in goals (10) and has four goals in his last nine games. He has 63 points (31g, 32a) in 99 pro games between Bridgeport and the New York Islanders. MacLean returned to Bridgeport’s lineup on Wednesday following a five-game stint with New York, including his NHL debut on Jan. 19th against Chicago. The 24-year-old has 78 points (29g, 49a) in 199 pro games with Bridgeport and New York, dating back to his AHL/pro debut on Feb. 5, 2021.  



The Islanders outshot the Thunderbirds in every period on Wednesday, including 12-3 and 14-6 margins in the second and third periods, respectively. Bridgeport’s 43 shots in the game marked a new season high. The Islanders are 12th in the AHL in shots per game (30.71) and have outshot their opponents in 23 of their 41 games this year. Bridgeport has outshot Springfield in all four meetings at home. 



Karson Kuhlman has points/assists in back-to-back games for the first time this season... Jakub Skarek made 21 saves on Wednesday to earn his 41st career win with Bridgeport, tying Dieter Kochan (2003-05) and Nathan Lawson (2008-11) for fifth on the team’s all-time list... Otto Koivula tied Travis St. Denis (2016-20) for 10th place on the team’s all-time games played list (259)... Reece Newkirk was reassigned from Bridgeport to the Worcester Railers (ECHL) on Thursday.



New York Islanders (20-17-12): Last: 3-2 OTL vs. Florida, Saturday -- Next: Monday at Toronto, 7 p.m. ET

Worcester Railers (18-18-3-2): Last: 4-2 L vs. Trois Rivières, Sunday -- Next: Tonight at Trois Rivières, 7 p.m. ET

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