The return of goaltender Chris Driedger and the introduction of three new players into the lineup were not enough for the Springfield Thunderbirds as they were beaten 6-3 on home ice by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Driedger saw his first game action since January 16, when he was injured in Florida’s 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings, and stopped 28 of the 33 he shots faced.
Newcomers Emil Djuse and Chase Priskie scored in their first games since coming from the Dallas and Carolina organizations on Monday to stake the Thunderbirds to a 2-0 lead before the Sound Tigers reeled off four straight goals to close the second period.
Daniel Audette, who assisted on both of the earlier Thunderbirds goals, notched a power-play marker with 5:48 left in regulation, from Danick Martel and Priskie, to make it a one-goal game.
Unfortunately, that would be as close as Springfield would get. Keifer Bellows would pick up his second of the night 49 seconds later to make it 5-3 and Kyle Burroughs would tally into an empty net to complete the scoring with 58 ticks left on the clock.
Joel Lowry and Paul Thompson collected assists for Springfield and forward Eetu Luostarinen, the other prospect acquired in the Vincent Trocheck deal, made his debut with the T-Birds, finishing with a -1 rating and no shots on goal.
The Thunderbirds remain two points behind the Charlotte Checkers, who also lost last night, for the final playoff spot in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. Charlotte holds two games in hand, so this loss to the Sound Tigers was a costly one.
Springfield will host the Providence Bruins tonight at the MassMutaul Center while the Checkers will journey to Hershey to face the Bears.