AHL Morning Skate: May 18

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.

Game 3 – BINGHAMTON 7, Charlotte 1 (BNG leads series, 3-0)
Game 3 – Houston 3, HAMILTON 2 (HOU leads series, 3-0)

1. Zack Smith netted a hat trick and added an assist as Binghamton moved to within a win of the Calder Cup Finals with a 7-1 rout of Charlotte in Game 3.

2. Houston captain Jon DiSalvatore tallied a pair of goals in the Aeros’ 3-2 win at Hamilton, putting Houston up three games to none in the Western Conference Finals.

3. Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner turned in a 37-save effort to help Binghamton to a 3-0 series lead.

Game 4 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05 (BNG leads series, 3-0)
Game 4 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30 (HOU leads series, 3-0)

Playoff Bracket
|| Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E3-Charlotte Checkers vs. E5-Binghamton Senators

Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – Binghamton 7, CHARLOTTE 4
Game 2 – Fri., May 13 – Binghamton 3, CHARLOTTE 0
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – BINGHAMTON 7, Charlotte 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 21 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Mon., May 23 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. N1-Hamilton Bulldogs
Game 1 – Fri., May 13 – HOUSTON 2, Hamilton 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 15 – HOUSTON 3, Hamilton 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Houston 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 20 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 22 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05 (BNG leads series, 3-0)
TV: Time Warner Cable 520 (Carolinas), Time Warner Cable Sports 23 & HD 813 (Central NY)
Webcast: AHLLive.com

Sitting on the verge of their first trip to the AHL’s championship series, Binghamton can complete a sweep and close out Charlotte on home ice tonight when the teams play Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena… The Senators are coming off a dominating 7-1 victory in last night’s Game 3 and have outscored Charlotte by a margin of 17-5 through the first three games of the series… Overall, Binghamton boasts the AHL’s top-rated postseason offense – averaging 3.94 goals per game – and has racked up at least six goals in a game on four occasions… Zack Smith led the way last night with three goals and an assist for the Senators, and Smith now has a point in four straight outings (4-3-7) and has totaled 6-7-13 in his last nine… One of Smith’s goals was the Senators’ league-leading fourth shorthanded tally of the postseason… Binghamton also received Game 3 goals from captain Ryan Keller (1-1-2), Erik Condra, Roman Wick and Bobby Butler, who scored for the third time in as many games this round (3-0-3)… Butler continues to lead all AHL rookies and is tied for second in the AHL with 10 goals this postseason (10-2-12)… Keller’s goal extended his scoring streak to four games (1-5-6), while Mike Hoffman picked up an assist on the night and now has a point in six straight (1-6-7)… Ryan Potulny (3-1-4) and AHL MVP Corey Locke (1-3-4) each boast three-game scoring runs for Binghamton… 20-year-old defenseman Jared Cowen, drafted ninth overall by Ottawa in 2009, registered two assists in Game 3… Robin Lehner made 37 saves and was credited with an assist in last night’s win… Since getting pulled after the first period of Game 1 of this series, Lehner has stopped 72 of 73 shots (.986) in back-to-back victories… Checkers forward Jon Matsumoto, who missed Game 2 of the series, returned to the lineup and netted his club’s lone goal in Game 3, his first since scoring twice in the division finals opener at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Apr. 28… Charlotte tallied three goals in the first period of Game 1 but has scored just twice in the eight periods since… Riley Nash leads all Checkers in scoring with 1-2-3 in the series, all of which came in Game 1… Mike Murphy allowed five goals on 29 shots in Game 3 before being relieved by Justin Pogge, who allowed two goals on three shots… After posting a 1.49 GAA and a .955 save percentage in the last round vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Murphy shows a 5.58 GAA and an .827 save percentage against Binghamton… The Checkers are facing elimination for the first time this spring… The Senators are 4-1 all-time with a chance to close out a playoff series, including 2-1 this postseason… No Binghamton AHL team has clinched a series on Broome County Arena ice since the 1995 Rangers closed out Rochester in the first round.

Game 4 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30 (HOU leads series, 3-0)
Houston can advance to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since 2003 tonight with one more victory over North Division champion Hamilton… The Aeros, looking for their second sweep of the postseason after taking out Peoria in four straight in the first round, own an impressive 11-3 playoff record and bring a four-game winning streak into tonight’s contest… Houston grabbed its third consecutive one-goal win with a 3-2 decision in Game 3 last night, as captain Jon DiSalvatore matched his previous 2011 postseason total with two goals… DiSalvatore (4-3-7) and Maxim Noreau (2-8-10) gave the Aeros a 2-0 lead, but Nigel Dawes and Andreas Engqvist scored late in the first period to draw the Bulldogs even before the intermission… DiSalvatore gave Houston the lead for good with a power-play goal at 5:18 of the second… Rookie goaltender Matt Hackett made 25 saves in Game 3 and has allowed seven goals (1.76, .945) during the Aeros’ four-game win streak… Colton Gillies paces Houston with seven playoff goals (7-1-8), and DiSalvatore’s four goals are part of a tie for second on the club along with points leader Patrick O’Sullivan (4-8-12), Robbie Earl (4-4-8) and Chad Rau (4-3-7)… Jared Spurgeon is Houston’s leading scorer in the series with 0-4-4… Hamilton ended an 0-for-21 drought on the power play with the marker by Dawes (10-6-16), who is tied for second in the AHL in goals… Engqvist snapped a 13-game dry spell with his first goal since Game 2 of the division semifinals vs. Oklahoma City on Apr. 16… Bulldogs defenseman Mathieu Carle chipped in an assist and has a point in all three games of the series (1-2-3)… Drew MacIntyre (8-8, 1.82, .933) made 24 saves in Game 3… Since taking a 2-0 series lead on Manitoba, the Bulldogs have lost six of their last eight games, and since a 5-1 win in Game 5 against the Moose, Hamilton has scored nine goals in its last 17 periods (plus six seconds) of play… Houston has scored first in all three games of this Western Conference Finals series; prior to this round, the Aeros had allowed the first goal in eight of their first 11 playoff games… The Bulldogs are 12-10 all-time when trying to avoid playoff elimination, but 0-3 when facing a sweep… Houston is 11-7 with a chance to eliminate an opponent, and 3-0 when going for a four-game sweep.


SMITH SCORES 3 GOALS TO LEAD B-SENS TO ROMP – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Challenged with the task of earning their first Game-3 win of the Calder Cup playoffs, the Binghamton Senators responded with a dominant 7-1 victory over the Charlotte Checkers in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night. Zack Smith had a hat trick and an assist to pace the B-Sens’ playoff league-leading offense in its second seven-goal outburst of the series, and Robin Lehner made 37 saves to keep the score lopsided as the B-Sens took a choke hold on the series.

With a 7-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, the Binghamton Senators set themselves up to accomplish a laundry list of feats the franchise has never achieved before. Reaching those goals should prove their toughest task to date. The B-Sens hold a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, but they are expecting a battle from an opponent that knocked off the top two teams from the East Division to earn a conference finals berth.

Three goals by Zack Smith left the Charlotte Checkers facing a three-game deficit. Smith’s hat trick Tuesday night carried the Binghamton Senators to a 7-1 victory and a commanding three-game lead in their best-of-7 American Hockey League Eastern Conference finals. Binghamton can complete a sweep tonight with a win on home ice. The Checkers need two straight wins just to bring the series back to Charlotte.

AEROS DOWN BULLDOGS – Hamilton Spectator
If history is any indication the Hamilton Bulldogs are in big trouble. The Houston Aeros beat the Dogs 3-2 last night at Copps Coliseum to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven AHL Western Conference Final. That means the Dogs will have to win tonight or their season in done. “It’s a difficult task and I know it’s a cliché but you have to take it one game at a time,” said Hamilton coach Randy Cunneyworth. Only two teams in the AHL’s 75 seasons have overcome 3-0 series deficits and the Bulldogs aren’t one of them.

It may not seem like it when you see the Houston Aeros are leading the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-0 heading into Wednesday night’s Game 4, but these two sides are not that far apart. A bounce here or a break there, things could be different. One team has been good at jumping on the other’s mistakes and has been rewarded for it. That old saying that you make your own luck might as well have been written for them. The other team? Not as much. Looking at where the series stands right now, you can guess which one is which.

The Calder Cup chase is all but over for the exhausted Hamilton Bulldogs. Jon DiSalvatore scored twice, leading the Houston Aeros to a 3-2 win over the Bulldogs in American Hockey League playoff action Tuesday night. The Bulldogs now trail Houston 3-0 in the Western Conference best-of-seven final. “We’ve got to be more desperate,” said Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre. The only two teams to come back from a 0-3 deficit in the AHL playoffs were the 1959-60 Rochester Americans and the 1988-89 Adirondack Red Wings.

The Aeros are one win away from advancing to the Calder Cup championship following a 3-2 victory against the Hamilton Bulldogs Tuesday night at Copps Coliseum. The victory – on the strength of two goals from captain Jon DiSalvatore – gave the Aeros a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals. “Our line has been generating a lot of chances, so it was nice to bury some,” said DiSalvatore. “But right now, it’s not about individual accolades; it’s just about winning the game.”

In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoffs action, 2003 Calder Cup finalist Michael Ryder tallied a pair of goals and assisted on another as Boston evened up the NHL Eastern Conference Finals with a 6-5 win over Tampa Bay in Game 2… Nathan Horton also had three points (1-2-3) for the Bruins, and 2005 Calder Cup champion Dennis Seidenberg picked up a pair of assists… 1999 AHL All-Star Martin St. Louis registered a goal and an assist for the Lightning.

122 – Teams in AHL history that have trailed a best-of-seven playoff series 3-0, including Hamilton and Charlotte in these conference finals… Of the previous 120, only two – the 1960 Rochester Americans (def. Cleveland) and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings (def. Hershey) have come back to win the series.

20.0 – Binghamton’s shooting percentage in the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring 17 goals on 85 shots in the first three games.

2 – Nash brothers – Hamilton’s Brendon and Charlotte’s Riley – facing playoff elimination tonight.

May 18, 2009
Michael Grabner scores twice, including the game-winner with 3:49 to play, as Manitoba grabs a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals with a 4-3 win over Houston.

May 18, 2007Kyle Chipchura records two goals and two assists in Hamilton’s 6-5 double-overtime win at Chicago in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

May 18, 2006 – Hershey improves its postseason record to 10-0 as Graham Mink’s goal 1:52 into overtime gives the Bears a 2-1 win at Portland in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 18, 1997Brad Isbister and Chad Kilger pick up a goal and an assist each and Manny Legace makes 43 saves as Springfield opens the Southern Conference Finals with a 6-2 win at Hershey in Game 1.

May 18, 1996Andrew Brunette registers a goal and two assists in Portland’s 7-1 win at Saint John in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 18, 1993 – Led by Mike Sillinger with two goals and an assist, the Adirondack Red Wings earn a 6-3 win in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals at St. John’s.

May 18, 1990 – Jeff Rohlicek scores 23 seconds into overtime as the Springfield Indians win the Calder Cup with a 4-3 win over Rochester in Game 6.

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