AHL Morning Skate: May 6

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 4 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT) (Series tied, 2-2)

1. Carson McMillan netted his second overtime goal of the 2011 playoffs 3:35 into the extra session to give Houston a 3-2 win over Milwaukee in Game 4 of the West Division Finals.

2. Colton Gillies potted his fifth postseason goal as the Aeros evened up the series at two games apiece.

3. Milwaukee rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith stopped 30 of 33 shots in the losing effort.

Game 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 (BNG leads series, 3-2)
Game 5 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00 (CHA leads series, 3-1)
Game 5 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30 (Series tied, 2-2)
Game 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35 (Series tied, 2-2)


Playoff Bracket || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

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 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
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 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 (BNG leads series, 3-2)
After having two days off to think about a 6-2 home-ice loss in Game 5, Binghamton has another chance to close out Portland in the Atlantic Division Finals as the series returns to the Cumberland County Civic Center for Game 6 tonight… The Senators, who have won five consecutive road games since a series-opening loss to Manchester in the first round, are again just one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2003… Binghamton boasts the AHL’s top three playoff goal-scorers in Ryan Potulny (10), rookie Bobby Butler (7), and Kaspars Daugavins (7)… Butler netted one of the Senators’ two goals in the Game 5 loss, and the rookie now has 6-1-7 in his last eight games… Second-year pro Jim O’Brien also scored on Tuesday, his first marker in 12 postseason games (1-2-3) after the former first-round draft pick erupted for 24 goals (24-32-56) in 74 regular-season contests… Daugavins (7-2-9) saw his three-game goal-scoring streak come to an end in Game 5, while Potulny and captain Ryan Keller each had five-game points streaks halted… Among all AHL scorers this postseason, Potulny (10-9-19) ranks first and Keller (6-9-15) is tied for second… Meanwhile, Senators rookie Colin Greening is still looking for his first point of the series, and Roman Wick is trying to end a seven-game points drought… Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner was lifted from Game 5 after surrendering four goals on 14 shots; Barry Brust, who hadn’t seen action since Game 4 of the first round vs. Manchester, stopped 25 of 27 shots in relief… Tuesday marked the Pirates’ first victory in a potential playoff elimination game since they rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the 2006 conference finals vs. Hershey only to drop Game 7 in overtime… Mark Mancari turned in a four-point effort (2-2-4) for Portland in Game 5, and the First Team AHL All-Star has team highs in goals (6) and points (12) overall… AHL rookie of the year Luke Adam is riding a four-game scoring streak (2-2-4), including a goal on Tuesday, and rookie Mark Voakes returned from a two-game absence to tally a goal in the Game 5 victory… Pirates goaltender Jhonas Enroth made 35 saves to earn his first AHL playoff win since Apr. 15, 2009, at Providence… Portland was 0-for-9 on the power play in the series before scoring on its first two opportunities early in Game 5… The Pirates have not been eliminated from a playoff series on home ice since a qualifying-round loss to Manitoba in 2003.

Game 5 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00 (CHA leads series, 3-1)
With Game 5 of the East Division Finals set for tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, the hometown Checkers sit one win away from knocking off AHL regular-season champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and advancing to the conference finals in their inaugural season… The teams have combined for only 12 goals through the first four games of this series, and Brad Thiessen (1.60, .942) of the Penguins and Mike Murphy (1.73, .945) of the Checkers are the top two goaltenders in the AHL in GAA and save percentage… Murphy made 44 saves in a 1-0 shutout victory in Game 4 on Wednesday, his highest save total since Nov. 21, 2009, when he stopped 46 shots in a 4-1 loss for Albany at Binghamton… Since this series shifted to Charlotte, Murphy has made 70 saves on 71 shots (.986) in posting back-to-back wins… Checkers forward Chris Terry netted the only goal for either side in Game 4 when he converted on a power play at 2:01 of the third period; assists went to defenseman Bryan Rodney and forward Jon Matsumoto… Terry, who led Charlotte with 34 goals during the regular season, had not scored since the club’s playoff opener at Hershey on Apr. 14… Matsumoto’s assist was his first point since scoring twice in Game 1 of this series on Apr. 28… Checkers forward Zach Boychuk is without a point in three straight games after beginning the postseason on a seven-game scoring run (3-5-8)… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has surrendered the first goal in three of the first four games of this series and lost the only contest in which it scored first, a 2-1 overtime setback in Game 3… The Penguins ranked fourth in the regular season with an average of 3.26 goals per game but have scored just 21 goals (including three empty-netters) in 10 playoff contests… Defenseman Corey Potter continues to lead the Pens in scoring with eight points (1-7-8), while Brett Sterling (2-4-6) stands as the club’s most productive forward… Chris Collins has a goal in two of his last three games for Wilkes-Barre and has fired a combined 11 shots on goal in the last two contests… The Penguins are an impressive 13-9 all-time when facing playoff elimination but are 0-3 in their most recent three elimination games.

Game 5 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30 (Series tied, 2-2)
Hamilton and Manitoba return to the MTS Centre ice tonight for a pivotal Game 5 of the North Division Finals, a series in which the home team is 4-0 through the first four contests… The teams are coming off a double-overtime marathon in Game 4 on Wednesday, which ended when Mario Bliznak one-timed a perfect cross-slot pass from rookie Jordan Schroeder past Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre at 11:54 of the second extra session… It marked Bliznak’s first goal of the postseason after the 24-year-old produced 11 goals and 27 points in 74 regular-season outings for the Moose in 2010-11… Schroeder’s assist extended his points streak to three games (1-2-3), while rookie defenseman Yann Sauve also picked up a helper for the first point of his professional playoff career… Prior to Wednesday’s win, the Moose had lost seven consecutive home playoff overtime games going back to 2006… The Moose forced OT in Game 4 when former Calder Cup champion Guillaume Desbiens netted his first goal of the playoffs with only 2:02 left in regulation, with an assist going to Bliznak… Desbiens had the game on his stick when he was awarded a penalty shot 1:29 into the first OT, but he did not score… AHL All-Rookie goaltender Eddie Lack (5-3, 2.14, .926) made a playoff-high 43 stops on 44 shots – including 12 saves in the two overtimes – to preserve the win… After breaking out for a combined seven points in Game 3 of the series, Manitoba’s top offensive threesome of Marco Rosa (5-10-15), Sergei Shirokov (6-3-9) and Jason Jaffray (3-5-8) was held off the scoresheet on Wednesday… Rosa’s 15 points are good for a share of second-most in the AHL this postseason, and his 10 assists rank first… The Bulldogs, who are now just 1-4 on the road in the playoffs, received their lone goal in Game 4 on the power play from rookie Gabriel Dumont, who has now found the back of the net in three straight contests (4-0-4) after failing to score in his first seven playoff outings… Defenseman Kyle Klubertanz extended his assist streak to four games (0-4-4), but team leading scorer Nigel Dawes (6-5-11) saw his six-game points streak (4-4-8) come to an end… This is the third consecutive series (including both this postseason) in which Hamilton has won the first two games only to drop the next two… The Bulldogs are 5-4 all-time in Game 5’s when a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2; the Moose are 2-4 in such games.

Game 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35 (Series tied, 2-2)
One night after tying up the West Division Finals at two games apiece with a 3-2 overtime triumph, Houston welcomes Milwaukee back to the Toyota Center for Game 5 tonight… The teams have alternated wins through the first four games of this series, with each side taking one victory on the other’s home ice… The Aeros jumped to a 2-0 lead in last night’s Game 4, watched as Milwaukee tied it, and then won in overtime when Carson McMillan lit the lamp only 3:35 into the first extra session… McMillan now has two goals in the 2011 postseason, and both have been overtime game-winners; the 22-year-old also accomplished that feat in Game 2 of the division semifinals vs. Peoria on Apr. 15… First Team AHL All-Star defenseman Maxim Noreau had two assists on the night, including one on the decisive tally, and Jarod Palmer also helped out on McMillan’s goal… Noreau recorded a point in his first three playoff games this year but had been in a four-game dry spell prior to Thursday’s effort… Patrick O’Sullivan and Colton Gillies had the other Houston goals; O’Sullivan snapped a brief two-game points drought, while Gillies has now tallied a goal in three of the first four games of this series (3-0-3)… Houston surrendered only 13 shots on goal in Game 4 – the fewest of any AHL postseason contest this spring – and rookie goaltender Matt Hackett (6-2, 2.08, .901) stopped 11 of them to pick up the victory… Andreas Thuresson and Aaron Johnson scored for the Admirals on Thursday, with Johnson picking up his first Calder Cup Playoff goal since Apr. 26, 2006, as a member of the Syracuse Crunch… Thuresson now has a goal in back-to-back games… Johnson registered Milwaukee’s first power-play goal of the series, ending an 0-for-25 drought that dated back to Game 4 vs. Texas… Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith (6-4) owns the AHL’s third-best save percentage (.935) and fifth-best goals-against average (2.02) in the playoffs to date… This postseason, Milwaukee has outscored opponents 10-5 in the first period, and Houston has outscored opponents 10-3 in the third period and overtime… Milwaukee is 1-3 all-time in Game 5’s of a best-of-7 Calder Cup Playoff series which was tied 2-2, but the lone victory came in this year’s division semifinals vs. Texas… Houston is 3-0 in Game 5’s in this situation and went on to capture all three series.


OVERTIME KIND TO AEROS – Houston Chronicle
For the second time this postseason, Aeros fourth-line winger Carson McMillan ended an overtime game in the first overtime. His winner Thursday gave the Aeros a 3-2 win in the game and evened the best-of-seven West Division finals series at 2-2. Game five – the Aeros’ last home game of this round – is tonight. “(Milwaukee) doesn’t give us very many offensive chances, and they are going to come out with a huge effort to match that,” said McMillan.

Carson McMillan’s goal 3:35 into overtime Thursday night gave the Houston Aeros a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals and evened their AHL playoff series at 2-2. Milwaukee had recovered from an early two-goal deficit, but the Aeros finished the Admirals when Jarod Palmer passed the puck to McMillan in the crease, and McMillan sneaked it between Jeremy Smith’s legs.

Sometimes Corey Fienhage wonders what Jeff Dimmen is doing, spending all that time at his laptop computer or hunched over paperwork. Every day since Dimmen turned pro with the Pirates about a month ago, Fienhage has watched as Dimmen has avoided the typical online diversions in order to complete his course work toward a degree in finance from the University of Maine. Dimmen is scheduled to receive his degree Saturday when UMaine holds its graduation ceremony in Orono.

SENATORS REMAIN A CONFIDENT CREW – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Panic is having a hard time finding its way into the Binghamton Senators’ locker room. A lopsided loss that cost them their first chance to clinch an Eastern Conference Finals berth and an injury list nearing double digits don’t even bring that “p” word to mind for the B-Sens. After all, those issues do not present any challenges they haven’t faced before.

ELIMINATION GAME – Citizens’ Voice
The way coach John Hynes sees it, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have reached their boiling point. “It’s like when you’re trying to boil water,” Hynes said Thursday afternoon, a day after the Penguins threw 44 shots on goal but lost 1-0 to fall behind the Charlotte Checkers 3-1 in the East Division finals. “It’s at 211. It’s just one degree. It gets to 212 and it starts to boil. That’s where we’re at. It’s just one degree more, one inch more, and I think that’ll help us to continue in this series.”

It’s a play that Chris Collins knows he can’t take back. While attempting to clear the puck during a Charlotte power play early in the third period on Wednesday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger was slashed on his wrist. “It was a stinger and I went down,” Collins said. While he was on the ice, the player that Collins was covering, Chris Terry, skated in from the point and wristed home the game-winning goal. Collins blamed himself.

The East Division finals have proven to be a difficult series so far for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They’ve been doubly difficult for forward Bryan Lerg. Battling an undisclosed injury, Lerg missed Game 1 and played sparingly in Games 2 and 3 before returning to the lineup at something close to full strength for Game 4 Wednesday.

Three games in hand and one to go. The question is whether the Charlotte Checkers can win the East Division finals tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena or whether Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will force a Game 6 and even Game 7. Whatever the outcome, it’s likely to be another grinding, low-scoring defensive battle between the third-seeded Checkers and the top-seeded Penguins, as was Charlotte’s 1-0 win Wednesday.

Manitoba Moose coach Claude Noel has started to tap into one of his team’s most important intangibles – will. “We found out in that series against Lake Erie that we have a group that has a tremendous will,” Noel said, noting the Moose comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. “They find a way to persevere. Our focus has been the game at hand. To me it defines a lot of the character and will that we’ve had.” It was on display again this week at the MTS Centre as the Moose have also erased a two-game deficit against the first-place Hamilton Bulldogs.

It’s one thing to have faith in your ability to overcome a deficit in a playoff series, and quite another to have to go to that well too many times. In each of the first two rounds, the Manitoba Moose have overcome a two-game deficit, the latest coming after a double overtime victory on Wednesday that brought them back to 2-2 in the North Division final against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

So what if this is, indeed, the final season for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose – will it be one to remember? Out With a Whimper looked to be this group’s closing theme when it fell behind three games to one to Lake Erie in the first round. Coming back from that was impressive enough, and now they’ve done it again, erasing a 2-0 series deficit against the more formidable Hamilton Bulldogs. Apparently, falling behind by a couple games puts this team right where it likes to be.

Mark Flood looks nothing like a guy who came into the spring with only five pro playoff games under his belt. Flood’s only prior post-season experience came last spring when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were ousted in the first round by the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. These days, he’s anchoring the Manitoba Moose blue-line, along with captain Nolan Baumgartner, and soaking up the entire experience.

Last night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, 2005 AHL All-Stars Ryan Kesler and Christian Ehrhoff registered a goal and two assists apiece as Vancouver pushed Nashville to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal… 2009 AHL All-Star Cody Franson recorded a goal and an assist for the Predators in the losing effort.

10 – Consecutive playoff overtime wins earned by the Houston Aeros… The Aeros’ last playoff OT loss came in Game 2 of the 2003 Calder Cup Finals, a 2-1 quadruple-overtime defeat at Hamilton in what was then the longest game in league history.

11-1 – Binghamton’s record this season in games played in New England (6-0 regular season, 5-1 playoffs).

120 – Entering this round, best-of-seven series in AHL history that have been tied 2-2… The Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 96 times (80.0 percent), including all five Game 5 victors in this year’s first round.

May 6, 2009Johnny Boychuk scores a goal and Tuukka Rask makes 22 saves as Providence runs its winning streak to six games with a 4-2 win over Worcester in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Finals.

May 6, 2006Jordin Tootoo nets a natural hat trick in Milwaukee’s 7-0 win over Houston in Game 2 of their West Division final.

May 6, 2004Derek Roy records two goals and an assist, Jason Pominville dishes out three assists and Ryan Miller makes 33 saves as Rochester downs Hamilton, 4-1, to take a 2-0 series lead in their North Division final.

May 6, 1980 – Darryl Sutter scores 6:01 into overtime, giving New Brunswick a 3-2 win over Maine in Game 6 and sending the Hawks into the Calder Cup Finals.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season 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.