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.
WEDNESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy turned in a 44-save performance to help Charlotte earn a 1-0 shutout win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, taking a 3-1 series lead in the East Division Finals.
2. Mario Bliznak scored 11:54 into the second overtime as Manitoba evened up the North Division Finals at two games apiece with a 2-1 victory over Hamilton.
3. AHL All-Rookie goaltender Eddie Lack stopped 43 of 44 shots in net for the Moose in nearly 92 minutes of work.
TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 4 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05 (MIL leads series, 2-1)
2011 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 2
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Binghamton 5, PORTLAND 3
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland 3, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 4 – Mon., May 2 – BINGHAMTON 6, Portland 1
Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland 6, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 7 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00
East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Charlotte 0
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – CHARLOTTE 2, W-B/Scranton 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – CHARLOTTE 1, W-B/Scranton 0
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Manitoba Moose
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – MANITOBA 5, Hamilton 4
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – MANITOBA 2, Hamilton 1 (2OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30
West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 0
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee 5, HOUSTON 3
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05 (MIL leads series, 2-1)
Houston looks to tie things up in the West Division Finals tonight when it tangles with Milwaukee for Game 4 at Toyota Center… The teams have alternated victories thus far, with the Admirals taking Games 1 and 3 and the Aeros coming out on top in Game 2… Eight of the clubs’ nine meetings this season have been decided by either one or two goals, including each of the first three games of this series… The Admirals enter tonight’s match having won three straight road games since an overtime loss in Game 3 of their opening-round series at Texas, and Milwaukee has gone 20 consecutive road games without a regulation loss – a streak that began on Jan. 15 and includes an AHL-record 16 regular-season contests… The Admirals surrendered the first goal for the second straight outing in Tuesday’s Game 3 but scored five of the next seven en route to a 5-3 victory… Steve Begin recorded a goal and two assists for his second multiple-point effort of the series (2-3-5) after the former Calder Cup MVP had gone the entire regular season and first playoff round without posting more than one point in a game… Andreas Thuresson, Mike Bartlett and Ryan Thang registered a goal and an assist apiece for the Admirals on Tuesday, and Mark Van Guilder also found the back of the net… Thang (3-4-7) and Van Guilder (3-2-5) now show a point in five of their last six contests, while Thuresson and Bartlett each got on the scoresheet for the first time in the series… Milwaukee’s power play went scoreless on five opportunities and is now 0-for-23 in its last five-plus games… Jeremy Smith stopped 31 of 34 shots in the winning effort on Tuesday night, improving to 6-3 (1.93, .938) in nine playoff appearances… A pair of Aeros defensemen – Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella – each netted his first goal of the postseason in Game 3, and rookie forward Jarod Palmer rounded out Houston’s offense in the losing effort… Robbie Earl assisted on all three goals and now boasts four helpers in his last two contests… Veteran forward Jon DiSalvatore paced the Aeros in the regular season with 28 goals and 61 points in 80 games, but he has scored only once through the team’s first seven playoff outings and has 4-2-6 in 26 career Calder Cup Playoff games… Aeros rookie goaltender Matt Hackett (5-2-0, 2.11, .905) let up five goals on Tuesday, one more than he had allowed in his previous three games combined… This postseason, Houston is 4-1 when allowing the game’s first goal but 1-1 when scoring it.
CHANGES COMING IN GAME 4 – Houston Chronicle
Down but not out, the Aeros will try to rebound tonight after playing their worst game of the playoffs Tuesday night. The Aeros scored first but unraveled after that en route to a 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday at Toyota Center. Milwaukee leads the West Division finals 2-1, and the Aeros need a win tonight at home to avoid having to win three straight to advance.
MOOSE WON’T BE DENIED – Winnipeg Free Press
Unlikely parties ended a streak that has tasted bad for the Manitoba Moose for a long time. Mario Bliznak’s first goal of these playoffs lifted the Moose to a 2-1 double-overtime victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs at the MTS Centre Wednesday night, Manitoba’s first-ever playoff win in overtime against their North Division rivals. It squares the best-of-seven series 2-2, with Game 5 here Friday and Game 6 back in Hamilton Sunday.
SUPER MARIO HERO FOR MOOSE – Winnipeg Sun
After coming home trailing the North Division final 2-0 and facing questions about how they were going to get back into the series, the Manitoba Moose found a way to earn a 2-1 double overtime victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday at the MTS Centre. Combined with a 5-4 triumph on Tuesday, the Moose not only erased the 2-0 deficit but you could make an argument they’ve moved into the driver’s seat in this excellent match-up.
MOOSE MAUL BULLDOGS, DRAW LEVEL IN THE SERIES – Hamilton Spectator
The nearly 7,000 fans who came out to watch a hockey game last night saw a magic show instead. The only thing is, it’s hard to say which team did the more unbelievable trick. An argument can be made for the Hamilton Bulldogs, who made a win they absolutely should’ve had, disappear. An equally compelling case can be made for the Manitoba Moose, who managed to make a 2-1 double-overtime victory appear out of mid-air. Either way, the North Division final has now been sawed in half. And nobody can figure out exactly how the trick was done.
BLIZNAK SCORES IN DOUBLE OVERTIME TO GIVE MOOSE 2-1 WIN – Canadian Press
Mario Bliznak didn’t mind that it took 11 games for him to get his first playoff point, especially given the impeccable timing of his big goal. The Manitoba Moose centre scored at 11:54 of double overtime to give his team a 2-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in American Hockey League playoff action Wednesday. “(There) wasn’t a better time than today in the overtime,” Bliznak said of his first post-season point.
MURPHY, DEFENSE CARRY CHECKERS – Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Checkers stand on the brink of knocking off the best regular-season team in the American Hockey League. In a tension-filled game where nearly every shot could determine the outcome, the Checkers put up a stone wall of defense and shut out Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1-0 Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena. The victory gives the Checkers a 3-1 lead in the East Division finals and a shot at winning the best-of-7 series at home Friday.
PENS HELD IN CHECK – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins did just about everything right offensively during Wednesday’s Game 4 matchup against the Charlotte Checkers. They spent tons of time in the offensive zone and created chances from just about every spot. They even peppered Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy with 44 shots. Unfortunately for the Penguins, he saved them all as the Checkers won 1-0 to take a 3-1 series lead in the East Division finals.
BACKS TO THE BOARDS – Citizens’ Voice
As the Charlotte Checkers made their way off the ice, seconds after the final buzzer sounded, two sections full of fans at the Time Warner Cable Arena stood and chanted. “Mur-phy, Mur-phy,” they yelled. It must have sounded like a fork scraping on a chalkboard to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The chant was in admiration of goalie Mike Murphy, who made 44 saves as the Checkers blanked the Penguins 1-0 in Game 4 of the East Division finals.
JUST WHAT THE B-SENS NEEDED, SOME REST – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators’ first two-day break of their second-round Calder Cup playoff series could not have come at a better time. After suffering a 6-2 loss to the Portland Pirates in Game 5 of the Atlantic Division Finals on Tuesday, the B-Sens took Wednesday to collect their thoughts, get some rest and make the seven-hour bus ride back to Portland. Game 6 is Friday. The B-Sens lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, 2003 Calder Cup finalist Marc-Andre Bergeron netted the game-winning goal, 1998 Calder Cup finalist Martin St. Louis posted a goal and an assist and 2005 AHL All-Star Sean Bergenheim scored twice as Tampa Bay completed a sweep of Washington, 5-3… Devin Setoguchi completed a hat trick by scoring 9:21 into overtime to give San Jose a 4-3 win at Detroit and a 3-0 series lead… Former AHL All-Star Zdeno Chara and David Krejci put up three points each in Boston’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia.
BY THE NUMBERS:
7 – Consecutive playoff overtime losses on home ice that the Manitoba Moose had suffered before last night’s double-OT victory over Hamilton… The Moose’s previous home playoff OT win came vs. Syracuse in 2006.
2 – Career penalty shots faced in overtime of a Calder Cup Playoff game by Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre… MacIntyre improved to 8-for-8 lifetime on penalty shots when Guillaume Desbiens failed on his attempt 1:29 into the first extra period last night.
ON THIS DATE:
May 5, 2010 – Bud Holloway’s sixth goal of the postseason is also his record-tying sixth game-winning goal, giving Manchester a 1-0 win over Worcester and a 3-2 lead in their Atlantic Division final series.
May 5, 2006 – Alex Burrows scores in Manitoba’s 3-1 win over Grand Rapids in Game 1 of their division final.
May 5, 2004 – Hartford completes a four-game sweep of Worcester with a 4-3 victory in Game 4, clinching the series on Ken Gernander’s goal at 7:49 of the third overtime period.
May 5, 2003 – Ray Emery stops 34 shots as Binghamton advances to the conference finals with a 2-1 win over Bridgeport in Game 6.
May 5, 1993 – Bill McDougall ties an AHL playoff record with five goals (and adds an assist) in Cape Breton’s 8-2 win over St. John’s as the Oilers complete a four-game sweep of the Maple Leafs.
May 5, 1974 – Rick Middleton’s overtime goal allows the Providence Reds to avoid a sweep with a 5-4 win over Hershey in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals.
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