Recap: Islanders 5, Wolf Pack 4Dec 22, 2023
William Dufour scored twice in the first period and Cole Bardreau punched home the difference maker in the final eight minutes of regulation, leading the Bridgeport Islanders (8-16-1-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 5-4 win against the Hartford Wolf Pack (15-6-5-0) at XL Center on Friday.
Ruslan Iskhakov was one of four Islanders with a multi-point performance, recording his team-leading eighth goal and 19th point of the season. Iskhakov and Otto Koivula each had one goal and one assist, while Robin Salo collected two assists. Ken Appleby (5-4-0) made 30 saves for his second straight win.
Friday’s victory gives Bridgeport its first winning streak of the season (2-0-0-0) and its first regulation win on the road.
The Islanders jumped out to a 4-0 advantage but had to hold on late with Hartford applying relentless pressure. Dufour drew first blood just 3:16 into the game when he motored in down the left wing, dropped his shoulder, and drove to the net before beating Louis Domingue’s glove. His second goal in as many games also came on the man advantage, one of two consecutive power-play goals in the first period.
Iskhakov followed at the 9:35 mark with a rebound goal following Matt Rempe’s tripping penalty. Tyce Thompson directed a shot towards the net that Domingue turned back, but Koivula, from just outside the crease, touched the puck to Iskhakov and Iskhakov barely snuck home the follow-up attempt. The call on the ice was upheld after a short-lived video review.
Dufour’s second tally of the period made it 3-0 when pressure from Brian Pinho deep in the Wolf Pack zone created a turnover, and Dufour did the rest. During a hectic 4-on-4 sequence, the second-year pro corralled the puck just ahead of Domingue and jammed home his fourth goal of the season at 12:50.
The Islanders went up 4-0 just 1:18 into the second period when Koivula cashed in for the fifth time this season. Bridgeport rushed ahead in transition and Iskhakov left a drop-pass for Robin Salo, who skated to the right circle and rifled a shot on net. Koivula altered Salo’s chance while also creating a screen. All five of Koivula’s goals this season have come on the road.
The Wolf Pack turned the tides rather quickly and cut their deficit in half with a pair of goals 92 seconds apart later in the second. Brandon Scanlin scored his third goal of the season at even strength before Matthew Robertson’s first tally of the year came on the power play at 7:26. Ryder Korczak, who assisted on both goals, nearly made it 4-3 but Appleby made a miraculous glove side by diving across the blue paint.
Alex Belzile forced the Islanders to hold their breath in the third period, scoring twice including his 10th goal of the season just six seconds in to draw Hartford within one. Immediately off the faceoff, Brennan Othmann raced ahead for a 2-on-1 before feeding a cross-ice path to Belzile on right side.
Belize also scored in the final four minutes, but Bardreau’s game-winner came just before that at the 12:42 mark on a rebound orchestrated by Jeff Kubiak. Kubiak skated down the left side and flipped an unassuming shot towards the Hartford cage, which Domingue misplayed and left the rebound on a platter for Bardreau.
The Islanders went 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the kill. Hartford outshot Bridgeport 34-22.
The series is knotted 1-1-0-0 through two of 10 meetings.
Next Time Out: The Islanders complete their six-game road trip tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Springfield Thunderbirds at MassMutual Center. The game can be seen live on AHLTV.com or heard for free via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pregame Countdown at 6:45 p.m.