AHL Morning Skate: Busy night as first round continues

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.

PROVIDENCE 2, Portland 1 (Series tied, 1-1)
W-B/Scranton 3, BRIDGEPORT 2 (WBS leads series, 1-0)
Grand Rapids 4, HAMILTON 3 (GR leads series, 1-0)
Houston 2, PEORIA 0 (Series tied, 1-1)
MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2 (Series tied, 1-1)

1. Anton Khudobin made 30 saves as Houston tied its series with a 2-0 win at Peoria’s Carver Arena in Game 2 last night.

2. Justin Abdelkader notched a goal and an assist in the third period of his pro playoff debut to help Grand Rapids past Hamilton, 4-3.

3. John Curry made 15 of his 30 saves in the third period as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held off Bridgeport, 3-2, at the Nassau Coliseum.

Game 2 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:00 (GR leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00 (HFD leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – W-B/Scranton vs. Bridgeport, 7:00 (at Uniondale, N.Y.; WBS leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 7:05 (HER leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:30 (MIL leads series, 1-0)
Game 3 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35 (Series tied, 1-1)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. A4-Worcester Sharks || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – HARTFORD 2, Worcester 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Hartford at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Portland 3, PROVIDENCE 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – PROVIDENCE 2, Portland 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Providence at Portland, 4:00
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Providence at Portland, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Portland at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Providence at Portland, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E4-Philadelphia Phantoms ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – Hershey 4, PHILADELPHIA 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 7:05
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – W-B/Scranton 3, BRIDGEPORT 2 (at Uniondale, N.Y.)
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – W-B/Scranton vs. Bridgeport, 7:00 (at Uniondale, N.Y.)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 5:05
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 4:00

North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N4-Toronto Marlies ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Toronto 3, MANITOBA 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Manitoba at Toronto, 4:00
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Grand Rapids 4, HAMILTON 3
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 6:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Semifinal – Series “G” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W4-Rockford IceHogs ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – MILWAUKEE 3, Rockford 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:30
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 6:05
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 6:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Peoria Rivermen vs. W3-Houston Aeros ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – PEORIA 6, Houston 4
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Houston 2, PEORIA 0
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:00
After stealing away home-ice advantage with a 4-3 win in the North Division semifinal opener last night, Grand Rapids returns to Copps Coliseum to battle Hamilton in Game 2 tonight… The Griffins, who entered the playoffs on a 2-6-0-0 skid, including three losses to the Bulldogs, netted a pair of goals in the third period of Game 1 to provide the difference… AHL All-Rookie forward Justin Abdelkader had a goal and an assist in that frame, and AHL career playoff scoring leader Darren Haydar scored the eventual game-winner… Four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty notched his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal for the Griffins, Joakim Andersson lit the lamp for the first time in his AHL career and Ville Leino posted two assists… Hamilton received goals from J.T. Wyman, Shawn Belle and rookie forward David Desharnais… The Bulldogs’ string of four straight series-opening wins came to an end; Hamilton won all four Game 1’s en route to the 2007 Calder Cup title… Grand Rapids is 3-1 lifetime in AHL playoff series in which it takes the opener, the only loss coming to eventual-champion Chicago in 2002.

Game 2 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
Hartford and Worcester return to the XL Center ice for Game 2 of their Atlantic Division semifinal tonight… The Wolf Pack captured a 2-0 win on Thursday behind a 38-save shutout performance by rookie goaltender Matt Zaba in his AHL playoff debut… Artem Anisimov – Hartford’s regular-season leader in goals (37) and points (81) – netted the game-winning goal in the opener… Dane Byers, in his first action since Oct. 31 due to injury, posted a goal and an assist for Hartford… The Wolf Pack will try avoiding a repeat of the 2008 division semifinals, when they defeated Portland in Game 1 at home only to drop the next four contests and the series… Hartford is going for its first 2-0 series advantage since the 2004 Atlantic Division Finals against the Worcester IceCats… The Sharks are now 1-3 all-time on the road in the playoffs, the lone win coming at Manchester on Apr. 27, 2007… Worcester registered 26 shots on goal to Hartford’s 13 over the second and third periods of Game 1… Defenseman Patrick Traverse recorded a team-high five shots for the Sharks.

Game 2 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton vs. Bridgeport, 7:00
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Bridgeport return to Nassau Coliseum to continue their East Division semifinal, one night after the Penguins escaped with a 3-2 triumph in the series opener… Rookies Dustin Jeffrey and Luca Caputi – who made their pro debuts during the Pens’ Calder Cup Finals run in 2008 – each posted a goal and an assist in Game 1, and Chris Minard also potted a goal… Pens goaltender John Curry stopped 30 of 32 shots to improve to his career AHL playoff record to 15-9… Trevor Smith and Rob Hennigar scored less than three minutes apart in the second period to turn a 3-0 Sound Tigers deficit into a 3-2 game, but they were unable to tie it… Mike Iggulden assisted on both goals for Bridgeport… The Sound Tigers will try to turn the tables on the teams’ two prior playoff clashes (2004, ’06), in which the Pens dropped both Game 1’s but emerged with seven-game victories… The Penguins are 7-1 in series where they win Game 1; the lone loss came to Saint John in the 2001 Calder Cup Finals.

Game 2 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 7:05
Hershey looks to take a commanding 2-0 series lead when it returns to the Wachovia Spectrum to battle Philadelphia in Game 2 of their East Division semifinal tonight… The Bears parlayed a three-goal third period into a 4-2 series-opening win on Thursday, and after tonight’s tilt, Hershey will host the next three games at Giant Center… Andrew Gordon and Kyle Wilson each posted a goal and an assist in Game 1 for the Bears, and rookie forward Oskar Osala notched the eventual game-winner on the power play early in the third period… Goaltender Michal Neuvirth earned the win in his AHL playoff debut with 30 saves on 32 shots… Hershey has won nine consecutive playoff series in which it captured Game 1 since dropping a first-round series to Kentucky in 1999… Jonathan Matsumoto and Lasse Kukkonen notched Game 1 goals for the Phantoms on Wednesday… Philadelphia is on a five-game playoff losing skid since taking Game 1 of the 2008 East Division Finals vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Game 2 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:30
After a tight series opener, Milwaukee welcomes Rockford back to the Bradley Center for Game 2 of their West Division semifinal tonight… The Admirals’ Cal O’Reilly, who entered the series with two goals in 20 career AHL playoff games, broke a 1-1 tie with 2:52 to play in regulation of Game 1 and added an empty-netter in the closing seconds… O’Reilly (2-1-3) and Patric Hornqvist each finished with multiple points for Milwaukee… Second Team AHL All-Star goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 31 of 32 shots in the victory… Former second-round draft pick Akim Aliu, making his Calder Cup Playoff debut, netted the IceHogs’ lone goal on the power play in the opening period… Netminder Corey Crawford made 21 saves in the Game 1 loss… The Admirals hold a 7-3 series record in the Calder Cup Playoffs when they take the opener but have lost the last two, including their first-round match-up with Chicago in 2008.

Game 3 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
The scene shifts to the Toyota Center in Houston as the Aeros welcome Peoria for Game 3 of their West Division semifinal tonight… Houston knotted the series at 1-1 last night in Peoria on the strength of a 30-save shutout performance by goaltender Anton Khudobin… It marked the second straight year that Houston dropped its playoff opener on the road only to have its netminder come back with a 30-save blanking in Game 2; Barry Brust turned the trick against Rockford in 2008, a game that went two overtimes… Peter Olvecky had a goal and an assist for the Aeros on Friday, and Danny Irmen also scored… Each team has totaled six goals through the first two games of this series… The Rivermen’s Trent Whitfield (1-4-5) and Steve Regier (2-2-4) combined to register nine points in four regular-season games at the Toyota Center this year… Houston has lost 10 of its 12 home playoff games since the Toyota Center opened in 2003-04.


Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
Losing late, as the Rockford IceHogs did in Game 1 to Milwaukee on Thursday, left a lousy taste. “Obviously, you have to be sour,” defenseman Tim Hambly said. “It’s obviously disappointing,” said winger Pascal Pelletier. “We were pretty close to taking one in their barn.” In Game 2, Rockford still knows it has to win once on the road and win out at home to win the best-of-seven first-round AHL series. “There’s a reason you play seven games,” Hambly said. “You’ve got to win four. It’s not the start we wanted, but neither team is going to get swept — we knew that coming in.”

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Jay Beagle dropped from scoring 19 goals in his 2007-08 rookie season to four in a 2008-09 campaign in which he was limited to 47 games by a concussion. Hershey Bears head coach Bob Woods spoke to the forward Thursday morning before his club played the Philadelphia Phantoms in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. “I just said, ‘Probably offensively you’re not happy with your numbers this year,’” Woods said Friday, “‘but guys that go out and have a big playoff run, that’s what they get remembered by. Nobody remembers the regular season.’” Beagle responded with the game-cementing goal and a team-high five shots in Hershey’s 4-2 victory at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
The streak is finally over. As much as the Manitoba Moose were trying to downplay the fact the Toronto Marlies had beaten them seven consecutive times, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief as the home side earned a 4-2 victory last night before a crowd of 9,111 at the MTS Centre. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I had butterflies before the game,” said Moose forward Jason Jaffray, who led the way offensively with two goals. “It’s nerve-racking, being the top team in the league and having a chance to lose your first two games at home. We talked about enjoying this win for five minutes. You can’t go dancing around because you won one hockey game.”

Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizens’ Voice
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins used a potent power play and a little luck to win their playoff opener Friday night. Chris Minard and Dustin Jeffrey scored power-play goals in the first period and goalie John Curry scrambled to hold off the hard-charging Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the third as the Penguins took a 3-2 decision in Game 1 of the East Division semifinals at Nassau Coliseum. “We were all over them in the second. We dominated the hockey game, and then they came back,” Minard said. “Credit to them. They stuck with their game and scored a couple big goals. They’re a good team. It’s going to be a long series.”

Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
History is not on the Hamilton Bulldogs’ side now. The Dogs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Grand Rapids Griffins last night at Copps Coliseum in the opening game of their best-of-seven American Hockey League North Division semifinal. In 10 previous playoff series in their history the Dogs are 2-8 when they dropped the first game. The last time they won a playoff round after dropping the opening game was in 2003 against Manitoba.

Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
The Peoria Rivermen failed to get much traffic in front of Houston Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin on Friday, and they paid for it by making their playoff road a little longer. The Rivermen dropped Game 2 of their West Division semifinal, 2-0, as Houston’s stout defense bottled up play in the neutral zone and left Peoria with mostly perimeter shots. Peoria centers Trent Whitfield and Cam Paddock got the job done on Houston scoring aces Krys Kolanos and Corey Locke, shutting out the tandem, but the Aeros got a momentum-turning goal with 9 seconds left in the first period and went on to tie the best-of-7 series, 1-1.

Paul Betit, Portland Press Herald
The Portland Pirates went on the road seeking a split in the first two games of their first-round playoff series against the Providence Bruins. Friday night, they came close to doing more than that. Left wing Jeremy Reich scored from the top of the right circle with less than 10 minutes remaining to lift the Bruins to 2-1 victory before a crowd of 6,040 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to square the best-of-seven series at 1-1. The Pirates, behind a 28-save performance by goalie Jhonas Enroth, won the opener 3-0 on Wednesday night. “You come down here with a goal of getting a split,” Portland coach Kevin Dineen said. “There’s a lot of disappointment, but you move forward knowing there’s a chance to get home-ice advantage, and that was a big goal of ours.”

2005 AHL All-Star Eric Staal netted the tying goal and Tim Gleason scored just 2:40 into overtime as Carolina knotted up its Eastern Conference quarterfinal with a 2-1 win at New Jersey on Friday… Alexandre Burrows, who registered 13 points in 13 Calder Cup Playoff games for Manitoba in 2006, scored to help Vancouver take a 2-0 series lead with a 3-0 win over St. Louis; Roberto Luongo pitched a 24-save shutout in the victory… Darroll Powe notched his first career NHL playoff goal, but Philadelphia fell to Pittsburgh by a 3-2 final in overtime.

9,111 – Attendance for last night’s Manitoba-Toronto game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the largest crowd for a first-round Calder Cup Playoff contest since Apr. 29, 2005, when 10,904 fans watched the Moose eliminate St. John’s in Game 5 of their division semifinal series.

5 – First-round Game 1’s that were won by the road team in the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs… Only Hartford, Milwaukee and Peoria held serve at home to begin their division semifinal series.

April 18, 2008Chad Kolarik notches a hat trick in his second professional game, leading San Antonio to a 6-3 victory at Toronto and the first postseason win in franchise history.

April 18, 2004 – After losing the first two games of their first-round series in overtime, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton gets in the win column with a 3-2 OT victory over Bridgeport in Game 3.

April 18, 2000 – Johan Hedberg’s 41-save shutout gives Kentucky a 4-0 win over Louisville and a 3-1 series victory.

April 18, 1986 – Yves Courteau scores 31:06 into overtime as Moncton defeats Maine, 4-3, to take a 3-1 lead in their Northern Division semifinal.

April 18, 1962 – The two-time defending Calder Cup champion Springfield Indians open up the Finals with a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons in Game 1.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.

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Jason Chaimovitch, Vice President of Communications
AJ Atchue, Coordinator of Communications