The Bridgeport Islanders in a 5-4 loss vs. Bruins
The Bridgeport Islanders opened their Dec. 1 game against the Providence Bruins. Entered the game with a three-game point streak of 27. As the team began to find their footing, the hope was that they would return from the holiday break with a win on their home ice.
They lost 5-4 in a back-and-forth game that was tied at the end of both the first and second periods but pulled away in the final period of the game. The loss drops the Islanders to 8-17-2 on the season and leaves them in last place in the Atlantic Division. The struggles are mostly a symptom of poor defensive play and struggles in goal.
The Bruins generated just 25 shots on net and the defense held for the most part, limiting the opposition to tough angle shots and minimal second chances. However, Islanders goaltender Jakub Skarek had a rough night in net, scoring on a handful of shots he looked to return. He allowed five goals and gave up nine goals in his last two starts as he allowed four in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds.
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The Islanders, trailing 5-3 with three minutes remaining, attempted to play with an empty net in an attempt to prolong their point run. He entered this season hoping to take a step forward and prove that he belongs at the American Hockey League (AHL) level and that he can make the leap to the NHL soon. With an .881 save percentage (SV%) and 3.38 goals against average (GAA), it looks like he’ll continue to split the starts as Appleby moves forward.
Kuhlman’s big goal
The highlight of the night was a goal by Carson Kuhlman that gave the Islanders a brief 2-1 lead. He darted up the ice with the puck and with quick moves to navigate the Bruins’ defense, he backhanded the puck into the back of the net. The only skater in the offensive zone and his shot resulted in either a turnover or a goal. He picked the right corner to close out a highlight-reel play and kickstart a second period that featured four goals.
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) December 28, 2023
The goal was Kuhlmann’s sixth of the season and is tied with Otto Koivala for the second most goals on the team. The Islanders offense has been a weak link this season, averaging just 2.35 goals per game. However, Kuhlman is one of the skaters who could turn the offense around with another two-way player who helped the team score four goals in a recent game.
Salo closes the game – Bridgeport Islanders
With three minutes left, the Islanders were behind 5-3 and tried to extend their point streak by playing with an empty net. Defenseman Robin Salo flipped the puck over the net, a theme of the offense throughout the game. Denis Cholowski scored his goal in the second period as he shot the puck on goal from the point and found the back of the net. With the game on the line, Salo zipped the puck through traffic and scored to cut the deficit to just one goal.
The goal was too little and too late as the Islanders, who continued to press after finding the net, failed to score and lost by one. That said, the goal was a bright spot for Salo, who has four points and 10 points on the season since finding the back of the net for the first time since Dec. 16 in a 4-3 overtime win against the Charlotte Checkers. . While he’s not the promising young prospect he once was at age 25, he’s still one of the best two-way players on the Islanders and can always jump to the NHL to fill in for an injured defenseman if needed.
Another takeaway from the Islanders loss
- Ruslan Iskhakov assisted on Brian Pinho’s goal in the first period. It was his team-leading 13th assist and his 21st point, also a team-high (he also leads the Islanders with eight goals, making him the focal point of an otherwise haphazard offense).
- Bruins goaltender Brandon Bussey struggled in net for the visitors last time out against the Islanders as he allowed three goals in a 3-1 Nov. 19 loss. In this game, he willed the Bruins to victory with a 33-save performance.
What’s next for the Islanders?
The Islanders return to the road on December 29 against the Springfield Thunderbirds. The last meeting went to overtime and the Islanders are hoping to bounce back and win their third game of the season against their division rival.
The Islanders are in last place in the Atlantic Division and recent losses have only made it harder to climb out of the hole. The season is looking like a lost one for the AHL team and with three months left in the season any hopes for a playoff spot are looking dim.