BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-12-3-2) showed tremendous resolve, erasing a two-goal second intermission deficit to stun the Bridgeport Islanders (10-19-4-0) in a 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday night at Total Mortgage Arena.
The T-Birds’ first-period troubles reappeared as Jeff Kubiak found an open space to skate on in and beat Malcolm Subban from the right wing side just 2:09 into the contest, giving Bridgeport the 1-0 edge. Kubiak added a second goal from deep in the right corner at 5:30, registering his first career two-goal game in short order and extending the Islander lead to 2-0.
Fortunately for Springfield, the Islanders’ 2-0 lead would last just 59 seconds as Nikita Alexandrov arrived deep in the Bridgeport zone off a line change and jammed home a centering pass from Mathias Laferriere at 6:29 to cut the lead in half. Rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Gaudet also picked up an assist on the Alexandrov goal, his first AHL point in just his second AHL game.
Subban and Jakub Skarek settled down their games after the quick offensive burst, and neither team could connect in the next 13-plus minutes of action. Springfield’s power play also could not take advantage, going 0-for-2 on chances in the first frame.
The Islanders carried the bulk of the offense in the middle period, dispatching a third Springfield power play before going to work on a power play of their own, generating an immediate goal from William Dufour at 12:34 of the second. Subban was under constant pressure, as Bridgeport unleashed 18 shots in the period, but the T-Birds’ backstop did everything in his power to keep his team close, stopping 17 of the attempts.
Subban’s stellar work in the second bought his team’s offense the time to start yet another magical third-period comeback. Despite trailing by multiple goals for the third straight time against the Islanders, the T-Birds refused to quit on the job. Mikhail Abramov got the latest bounceback started with a tally at 9:26 of the third period on a one-timer from the right circle. Leo Loof set up the play with an alert shot fake from the left side, which allowed him to slide around a shot block and find Abramov with a cross-ice pass.
Just 1:18 later, the game was tied on a brilliant zone entry play. Matthew Peca stepped over the blue line on the right side before slipping the puck into the middle to a crashing Calle Rosen. With a seemingly clear lane to shoot, Rosen instead drew Skarek and the defense’s eyes in his direction before finding MacKenzie MacEachern for a one-timer into an empty goal to make it a 3-3 game at 10:44.
As the two teams made their way to a third consecutive overtime matchup, the momentum had firmly swung to the visitors’ side, and Rosen wasted little time wrapping it up at 1:11 of overtime. After a centering pass by Alexandrov got caught up in skates, Rosen successfully dug it out from the slot area and pushed toward the goal. As he was getting tripped up, the blueliner got a forehand shot off from his stomach that slipped through Skarek’s five-hole for the winning tally. It was Rosen’s first goal of the season and Alexandrov’s third point of the night, putting an end to the T-Birds’ five-game winless streak.
Springfield looks to build on the momentum from the gut-check win on Friday night as they pay a visit to the Syracuse Crunch for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.