Recap: Islanders 5, Thunderbirds 1Feb 2, 2024
Cole Bardreau had three points and Henrik Tikkanen made an AHL career-high 37 saves to lead the Bridgeport Islanders (13-24-5-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 5-1 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds (20-19-3-2) at Total Mortgage Arena on Friday.
Bardreau scored two goals and added an assist, while Matt Maggio, Carsen Twarynski, and Eetu Liukas also lit the lamp. Twarynski and Bardreau both found the back of the net for the second straight game. Bardreau had five points in two games against the Thunderbirds this week. He and Liukas each recorded their second straight multi-point performance.
It was the Islanders’ second straight win and their largest margin of victory this season. Bridgeport has back-to-back wins at home for the first time this year.
Both teams came out flying in a fast paced, high scoring, opening nine minutes of play. The Islanders’ fourth line of Bardreau, Liukas and Jeff Kubiak continued their recent success, as Bardreau broke the ice just 2:39 into the game with his eighth goal of the season. The Bridgeport veteran redirected Liukas’ shot from the point that squeaked under Colten Ellis’ pad and into the net. Grant Hutton received the secondary assist on Bardreau’s second goal in two games.
Maggio extended the Islanders’ lead just under five minutes later, skating in from the blue line and beating Ellis, glove-side and low, with a hard wrist shot. Brian Pinho and Ruslan Iskhakov were credited with the assists at the 7:32 mark. It was Iskhakov’s team-leading 21st assist and 34th point.
The Thunderbirds got on the board 8:56 into the first period with Hunter Skinner’s second goal in three games. The Springfield defenseman let one fly from the right point that deflected off a Bridgeport player and past Tikkanen (4-3-1). Will Bitten and Hugh McGing were credited with the assists.
The Islanders continued their offensive push into the second period, scoring two goals in a span of 42 seconds to make it 4-1. The first goal was courtesy of a net-front deflection from Liukas. Travis Mitchell fired the shot from the left point that Liukas batted down to get through Ellis. Bardreau received the secondary assist.
Bridgeport’s second goal of the period came on the next sequence when Twarynski shoveled home a rebound under Ellis’ pad, just trickling past the goal line. Aidan Fulp’s shot led to the rebound tally, providing the lone assist on the play.
Tikkanen continued to stand tall in the third period for the Islanders, highlighted by a spectacular right-to-left pad save on a Thunderbirds’ two-on-one. Bardreau added an empty-net goal for his second of the game with 1:39 to play.
Springfield also had a power-play goal waived off due to goaltender interference in the closing minutes.
Bridgeport finished the game 0-for-2 on the man advantage and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. The Islanders improved to 5-2-2-0 against Springfield this season and 4-0-1-0 in those games at home.
Next Time Out: The Islanders play their final game before the 2024 AHL All-Star break tomorrow night, facing the Hershey Bears at Giant Center at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on AHLTV.com or heard for free via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network.