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Eastern Conference notebook

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Goaltender Michael Leighton currently leads the AHL in save percentage (.933) and is tied for the league lead in both GAA (2.04) and shutouts (6)… Leighton ranks fourth with 25 wins on the season (25-21-4)… His 28 career AHL shutouts have pulled him into a tie with Jason LaBarbera for sixth on the all-time list in that category… The River Rats were shutout in back-to-back games for the first time this season on Mar. 14-15… Jamie Johnson posted two goals and an assist in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Hershey, marking his fourth three-point game of the season.
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Binghamton is 4-0-2-0 in its last six games to pull within a point of Hershey for the East Division’s fourth and final playoff spot… The B-Sens allowed their first hat trick of the season on Sunday when Zenon Konopka scored three for Syracuse… Ironically, Konopka also tallied the last hat trick against Binghamton, on Mar. 30, 2007… Senators captain and leading scorer Denis Hamel notched his eighth multiple-goal game on Mar. 15, scoring twice in Binghamton’s 4-3 overtime win over Rochester.
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Despite winning just once in their last six tries (1-4-0-1), Bridgeport sits just three points out of the East Division’s final playoff spot… The Sound Tigers are one point back of Binghamton for fifth place… Rookie forward Kyle Okposo, the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, made his NHL debut for the N.Y. Islanders on Tuesday, logging 13:09 of ice time in a 3-1 loss to Toronto… Okposo has notched 24 points (8-16-24) in 29 games for Bridgeport this season, including two game-winning goals.
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Hartford’s 5-4 overtime win over Philadelphia on Wednesday pushed the Wolf Pack to 4-0-0-1 against the Phantoms over the last five years… The Pack are 8(w)-3(l)-1(t)-1(otl) all-time in Philadelphia, where the teams will square off on Friday… The Wolf Pack’s 4-1 win at Worcester on Sunday improved their record against the Sharks this season to 7-0-0-0… Hartford has outscored Worcester 29-11 on the season and has not trailed at any point in any of the seven games… Rookie Mike Ouellette recorded his first career two-goal game on Mar. 14 against San Antonio.
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Hershey is 2-8-0-0 thus far in March after not losing more than four games in any other month this season… Alexandre Giroux, who had nine points (5-4-9) in eight games against Philadelphia last season, tallied four points (2-2-4) in his first game against the Phantoms this season, a 5-3 win on Mar. 14… Hershey goaltender Daren Machesney had been 13-0-3 with a 1.99 GAA in his career at the Giant Center prior to dropping a 3-1 decision to Manitoba on Sunday.
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Lowell has scored a total of two goals in losing its last three games, having been outscored 10-2 in that span… Prior to their 3-1 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, the Devils had been 4-2-2-0 in their last eight road contests… Lowell is 18-3-3-3 this season when scoring three goals or more… 2008 AHL All-Star Petr Vrana continues to lead the Devils with 48 points (13-35-48), while Barry Tallackson boats a team-high 21 goals (21-20-41)… The Devils travel south this weekend to take on Norfolk, with whom they have split a pair of tilts in Lowell this season.
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Manchester sits three points back of Springfield for the Atlantic Division’s final playoff spot, with 12 games to play for each team… The Monarchs host the Falcons on Sunday in the teams’ final head-to-head meeting… Teddy Purcell, who leads all AHL rookies with 68 points (18-50-68), posted a pair of assists in Manchester’s 4-3 loss at Springfield on Wednesday, avoiding what would have been his first three-game scoreless skid of the season… The Monarchs rank first in the AHL in power play (23.4%) but 29th in penalty killing (77.9%).
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Norfolk has killed 36 of its last 39 shorthanded situations (92.3%) over a seven-game span, including four games against two of the top seven power plays in the AHL (Philadelphia and Portland, two games each)… The Admirals are 7-4-1-2 in their last 13 home games, but are 3-8-0-0 in their last 11 overall… Norfolk has been outshot in 14 consecutive games, totaling a -212 shot differential over that span… Kyle Wanvig paces the Admirals with 20 goals, 31 assists, and 51 points in 56 games.
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Martin Houle allowed a goal on Portland’s first shot on Sunday and then stopped the next 24 to get the win in his first start of the season for Philadelphia… The Phantoms’ 5-4 overtime loss at Hartford on Wednesday marked just the second time this season that they lost a game in any fashion after taking a lead into the third period (25-1-1-0)… Their other loss in this situation came at Albany on Mar. 2, a 2-1 decision in regulation… Philadelphia has nine shutouts as a team this season, four shy of the franchise record of 13 blankings, accomplished in the 2003-04 campaign.
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Portland, which has not had a losing month all season, is 6-3-0-0 thus far in March… The Pirates are a perfect 16-0-0-0 on the campaign when scoring five or more goals in a game… Drew Miller is currently riding a three-game scoring streak (1-3-4) and has a point in six of his last seven contests (5-6-11)… Tyler Bouck posted season highs in goals (2) and points (3) in the Pirates’ 5-3 win at Norfolk on Mar. 15… Portland will play 10 of its final 11 games within the Atlantic Division, the lone exception being a home tilt against Albany on Mar. 30.
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Providence has a point in seven straight games (5-0-0-2) since going 1-3-1-0 on a five-game Western road trip… Last weekend, the B’s became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs… Jeff Hoggan (3-4-7) and captain Nate Thompson (3-3-6) are both riding four-game scoring streaks, while Matt Hendricks has posted multiple points in three of his last four outings (2-5-7)… Rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask picked up his first North American pro shutout on Wednesday, making 27 saves in a 7-0 win at Norfolk.
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With his two-point (1-1-2) performance on Wednesday, Viacheslav Trukhno extended his scoring streak to nine games (7-6-13)… Trukhno has tallied a goal in seven of the nine games… Rob Schremp, who also had a goal and an assist on Wednesday, is currently boasting a seven-game scoring streak (4-6-10)… Schremp has cracked the AHL’s top 10 scoring leaderboard with 64 points (18-46-64) in 66 games this season… The Falcons are 5-1-0-0 in their last six home games and 1-4-0-0 in their last five road affairs… Springfield, currently with a three-point lead for fourth place in the Atlantic Division, is attempting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has amassed 18 of its 41 victories this season via a pair of nine-game winning streaks, including its current run that has lifted the Penguins one point out of first place in the East Division… The Pens also won nine straight from Dec. 15 – Jan. 2… Jonathan Filewich set a new career high for assists in a game on Mar. 14 when he picked up three in a 4-1 win at Bridgeport… It was Filewich’s fourth career three-point game and second of the season… Kurtis McLean broke the Penguins’ all-time record for game-winning goals in a season when he tallied his eighth on Wednesday, helping the Pens to a 3-1 win over Lowell.
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Brad Staubitz set a new season high with three points (1-2-3) in Worcester’s 6-1 win at Lowell on Mar. 14… T.J. Fox’s penalty shot against San Antonio on Mar. 12 was the team’s first of the season and second in franchise history; Grant Stevenson, now of Quad City, converted an attempt against Providence on Mar. 2, 2007… The Sharks conclude a four-game homestand with weekend games against East Division foes Bridgeport and Albany.