AHL Morning Skate: April 7

Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.

MILWAUKEE 4, Peoria 1
SYRACUSE 3, Hershey 1
Manitoba 2, HAMILTON 1
Rockford 3, HOUSTON 1
TEXAS 3, San Antonio 1

1. Syracuse goaltender Dan Taylor turned aside 41 of 42 shots to help the Crunch past Hershey, 3-1.

2. Mark Cullen tallied a pair of goals as Rockford earned a 3-1 victory at Houston.

3. Rookie forward Sergei Shirokov registered a goal and an assist as Manitoba rallied for a 2-1 win at Hamilton.

Binghamton at Adirondack, 7:00
Rochester at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
Abbotsford at Lake Erie, 7:00
W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00

Click here for up-to-date AHL standings

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton clinches a playoff berth tonight with:
(a) a win at Norfolk

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Binghamton at Adirondack, 7:00
Binghamton, which is 12-4-1-0 in its last 17 games, visits Adirondack on Wednesday looking to continue its late playoff push… The Senators sit six points behind Bridgeport with four games remaining, including the next two in Glens Falls… Binghamton forward Josh Hennessy has recorded 22 points (9-13-22) in his last 14 games, including eight multiple-point efforts during that span… Defenseman Geoff Kinrade is on a four-game assist streak (0-5-5) for the Senators… Martin St. Pierre has a point in seven of his last eight (4-6-10), and Kaspars Daugavins shows three goals in his last two outings… The Phantoms have dropped four straight in regulation and are without a win in six straight contests (0-5-0-1)… Jon Matsumoto’s five-game goal-scoring streak (5-3-8) ended on Saturday in a 4-2 loss at Albany… Adirondack is 18-15-3-1 at home this year compared with a 13-24-0-3 mark on the road, but has lost two of three home dates with Binghamton.

Rochester at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Winners of three straight games, Rochester visits Grand Rapids on Wednesday in the teams’ final meeting of the season… With a victory, the Americans would clinch second place in the North Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs… Graham Mink has put up six points (3-3-6) during his current four-game scoring streak for Rochester after recording just three points (1-2-3) in his previous 19 games combined… Amerks forward Chris Taylor has point in four of his last five contests (2-5-7)… Goaltender Tyler Plante posted a 37-save shutout as Rochester took a 3-0 win on Mar. 31 in the teams’ last clash… Jan Mursak has a point in four of his last five games (2-2-4) for the Griffins, who will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
Worcester visits Hartford on Wednesday in the front end of a home-and-home; the clubs will also square off on Friday in central Massachusetts… The Sharks’ lead atop the Atlantic Division has been trimmed to one point over Portland, while the Wolf Pack are in danger of missing the playoffs entirely for the first time in their 13-year history… Hartford is 5-2-0-0 in its last seven games to climb within five points of a postseason berth… Kris Newbury is riding a seven-game assist streak (0-10-10) and has racked up 15 points (2-13-15) in 14 games since joining the Wolf Pack… Defenseman Corey Potter shows an assist in five straight (0-6-6) for Hartford… Worcester has totaled just three goals while posting a 0-1-1-0 mark in its last two games… 2010 Eddie Shore Award winner Danny Groulx leads all AHL defensemen with 62 points (11-51-62) while playing all 76 games for the Sharks.

Abbotsford at Lake Erie, 7:00
Abbotsford visits Lake Erie on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game road trip to close the regular season… The Heat have clinched a playoff spot and are on a three-game winning streak – their longest since winning five straight from Feb. 20-27 – but sit just two points up on Manitoba for third place in the North Division… Defenseman Staffan Kronwall is on a four-game scoring streak (1-4-5) for the Heat, and David Van der Gulik has notched the game-winning goal in two of Abbotsford’s last three contests… Lake Erie, which will miss the postseason, is returning home after playing 13 of its last 16 games on the road… T.J. Hensick has a point in four straight games (1-4-5) and nine of his last 11 (2-12-14) for the Monsters… Hensick shows a team-high nine points (3-6-9) in five games vs. Abbotsford on the year.

W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton travels to Norfolk on Wednesday, and a victory will earn the Penguins their eighth straight trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs… Wilkes-Barre has lost three of its last four games overall but has taken four in a row from the Admirals, including a two-game sweep at Scope on Mar. 24 and 26… Dustin Jeffrey has a goal in his last two games for the Pens and leads the team with 70 points (23-47-70) in 73 contests for the season… Tim Wallace (26-13-39) has scored six of his team-leading 26 goals vs. Norfolk this season (6-2-8)… The Admirals enter play three points back of Wilkes-Barre for third in the East Division and two points back of Bridgeport for a playoff spot… Norfolk is an even 17-17-0-3 at home this season, with three games left to play.

Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00
One day after clinching the West Division’s final playoff spot, Milwaukee visits Chicago in a potential first-round preview… The Wolves currently sit atop the division but are now just two points ahead of second-place Texas… Mike Santorelli has a point in eight straight games (4-8-12) and 13 of his last 14 (6-12-18) for the Admirals, while Andreas Thuresson has netted a goal in his last three outings (3-3-6)… Ads defenseman Teemu Laakso is on a three-game scoring run (1-4-5)… The Wolves boast the AHL’s fourth-ranked offense (3.31 goals per game) but have been shut out in two of their last four contests… Johnny Pohl has racked up 13 points (4-9-13) in eight games vs. Milwaukee this season, helping the Wolves to a 6-1-1-0 mark in the season series thus far.

In mid-January, Ryan Craig went home to Tampa for a respite from 3-1/2 disconsolate months of hockey. The Admirals were tied for last in the American Hockey League. Darren Rumble, a former teammate of Craig’s, had been fired as coach. “We were at rock bottom,” Craig said. And today? “We’ve got a chance to do something really special.”

A month ago, if the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had to travel to Norfolk to play the Admirals in a game with major playoff ramifications, there would’ve been a lot of doubts. But now there are no doubts. Just confidence, thanks to back-to-back wins the last time the Penguins played in Norfolk.

They may make it look easy, year after year, but getting to the playoffs is not to be taken for granted. Just ask Milwaukee Admirals coach Lane Lambert, whose team clinched its eighth straight playoff berth with a 4-1 victory over Peoria on Tuesday afternoon.

Joe Colborne is standing in the crosshairs, again. That’s how it is when you’re young, gifted and 6-foot-5. And that’s how it is when you are a heralded first-round draft pick and you arrive in the middle of Bruins Nation, yanking the Black and Gold over your broad shoulders.

It seems more inevitable by the day that defenseman P.K. Subban is Montreal-bound and will enjoy a lengthy career in the NHL. If the 2009-10 season does indeed turn out to be his only full year in the American Hockey League, he is certainly leaving his mark.

Tyler Ennis scored a goal and assisted on two others as Buffalo clinched the Northeast Division title with a 5-2 win over the N.Y. Rangers last night… Ennis’s fellow 2010 AHL All-Rookie forward Logan Couture assisted on the game-winning goal in San Jose’s 2-1 win over Calgary, giving the Sharks the Pacific Division crown… Drayson Bowman, who shows 32 points in 56 games for Albany this season, scored his first two NHL goals in Carolina’s 8-5 victory over Tampa Bay… Matt Climie made 33 saves for Dallas in his first NHL appearance of the season, a 5-2 loss to Chicago… AHL graduate Martin Brodeur became the first NHL goaltender with 600 wins, leading New Jersey over Atlanta, 3-0.

23 – Consecutive shorthanded situations killed off by the Chicago Wolves over their last five games… Chicago’s penalty-killing unit shares fifth place in the AHL this season with an 85.6 percent success rate.

April 7, 2006 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Portland both clinch their first division championships, the Penguins with a 5-4 win at Norfolk and the Pirates thanks to a 5-3 win in Hartford.

April 7, 1993 – Jozef Stumpel records three assists in Providence’s 8-3 victory over Binghamton… At 4-2-0, the Bruins would finish as the only team with a winning record against the Rangers (57-13-10) on the season.

April 7, 1992 – Patrick Lebeau scores 1:06 into the second overtime as the Fredericton Canadiens open the 1992 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 win over the Moncton Hawks.

April 7, 1972 – Michel Plasse records his second consecutive shutout to begin the postseason, leading the Nova Scotia Voyageurs to a 6-0 win over the Springfield Kings.

April 7, 1957 – The Cleveland Barons advance to the Calder Cup Finals, rallying from a 3-1 deficit and scoring twice in the 10-minute overtime period to defeat Rochester, 5-3, in Game 7.

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