AHL Morning Skate: Moose, Aeros battle in Game 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.

Hershey 3, PROVIDENCE 2 (OT) (HER leads series, 3-1)

1. Graham Mink tallied the game-winning goal in overtime and added an assist in Hershey’s 3-2 win over Providence.

2. Defenseman Jeff Penner notched his team-leading fourth goal of the series for the Bruins.

3. Bryan Helmer netted his third goal of the playoffs for the Bears, who took a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Game 5 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05 (HER leads series, 3-1)
Game 6 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30 (MTB leads series, 3-2)

Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A2-Providence Bruins
|| Preview
Game 1 – Sat., May 16 – Providence 3, HERSHEY 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 17 – HERSHEY 2, Providence 1
Game 3 – Fri., May 22 – Hershey 6, PROVIDENCE 4
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey 3, PROVIDENCE 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Mon., May 25 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 27 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., May 28 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. W3-Houston Aeros
|| Preview
Game 1 – Fri., May 15 – MANITOBA 2, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 16 – MANITOBA 5, Houston 2
Game 3 – Mon., May 18 – Manitoba 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 4 – Wed., May 20 – HOUSTON 5, Manitoba 4 (OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 22 – HOUSTON 4, Manitoba 3 (2OT)
Game 6 – Mon., May 25 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Wed., May 27 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 5 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05 (HER leads series, 3-1)

Webcast: AHL Live (www.ahllive.com)
Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208
Nearly 18 hours after Hershey took a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference championship series, the Bears and Bruins return to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for Game 5 this afternoon… The Bears, who have won three straight games after dropping the series opener to Providence, can advance to the Calder Cup Finals for the third time in the last four years with one more victory… Hershey captured its second consecutive come-from-behind win in Game 4 on Sunday, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to post a 3-2 victory… Graham Mink assisted on Keith Aucoin’s tying goal with 6:48 to play in regulation and then notched his second straight game-winner 15:10 into overtime… Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux earned helpers on Mink’s tally, allowing Hershey’s top line to all finish with two points on the night… Giroux paces the Bears with eight goals and 18 points this postseason, and he is currently riding a six-game scoring streak (4-5-9)… Aucoin has a point in five of his last six contests (2-6-8), and Mink has found the scoresheet in four of his last five (2-3-5)… Bryan Helmer also scored for the Bears on Sunday and now has a goal in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 26-29, 2005, as a member of Grand Rapids… Rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth earned the victory with 25 saves on 27 shots for Hershey in Game 4… Jeff Penner notched a power play goal for the Bruins, and the rookie defenseman now has a team-high four goals and six points in the series… Penner, who totaled 10 goals in 80 regular-season contests, is now tied for the team playoff lead with six tallies in 15 games (6-4-10)… Peter Schaefer also scored for Providence in Game 4 and has a point in four of his last five games (2-3-5) on the heels of a five-game drought… The Bruins are 4-for-7 on the power play in the last two games and 7-for-13 (53.8 percent) for the series… Not including shootout defeats, Providence has not dropped four consecutive games since losing four straight to Portland in the 2008 Atlantic Division Finals… The Bruins are 19-13 all-time when facing playoff elimination.

Game 6 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30 (MTB leads series, 3-2)
Webcast: AHL Live (www.ahllive.com)
Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208

Its 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals having dwindled to 3-2, Manitoba hosts Houston in Game 6 tonight with another chance to eliminate the Aeros and move to their first AHL championship series… Houston has stayed alive courtesy of back-to-back overtime wins on home ice, most recently a 4-3 double-overtime decision in Game 5 on Friday… Tony Hrkac scored twice for the Aeros in that tilt, including the game-winner at 4:19 of the second extra session, and now has three goals in Houston’s last two victories… Defenseman Maxim Noreau and rookie Matt Beaudoin combined with Hrkac to stake Houston to a 3-0 lead after two periods on Friday… Noreau snapped an 11-game drought with his first goal since Game 7 of the first round at Peoria on Apr. 27, while Beaudoin increased his AHL rookie-leading totals to eight goals and 17 points in 19 games this postseason… Corey Locke posted two assists for the Aeros and continues to lead all AHL scores in the playoffs with 11 goals and 22 points thus far… The Moose rallied for three third-period goals to tie Friday’s contest, including scores by Jason Krog and Mark Cullen in the final 21 seconds of regulation… Krog, who also registered an assist in Game 5, is on a four-game scoring run (3-4-7) and paces Manitoba with 18 points (7-11-18) in 15 playoff contests overall… Michael Grabner also posted a goal and an assist on Friday and has racked up five goals and six points in his last four outings… Manitoba finished 2-for-2 on the power play after combining to go 0-for-6 in the previous two games of the series… Making his first AHL start of the season, Aeros goaltender Matt Climie earned the win by stopping 45 of 48 shots, including all 18 sent his way during the overtime periods… Houston is looking to become the third team in AHL history to force a decisive game in a best-of-7 series after dropping the first three contests (1960 Rochester Americans and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings)… Manitoba also brought a 3-2 series lead back to MTS Centre in the first round against Toronto and defeated the Marlies in Game 6.


Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Since turning 30 on May 21, Graham Mink has scored two goals in two games. Forget any notion of an early mid-life crisis, Graham. The right winger’s tally at 15:10 of overtime Sunday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals at Dunkin’ Donuts Center lifted the Hershey Bears to a 3-2 victory over the Providence Bruins. The Bears are one victory from reaching the Calder Cup finals for the third time in the last four years.

Mike Scandura for the Lebanon Daily News
The operative number is one — as in one more victory and the Hershey Bears will return to the finals of the Calder Cup playoffs for the third time in the last four years. Graham Mink made that scenario a distinct possibility by scoring at 15:10 of sudden-death overtime last night to give Hershey a 3-2 victory over the Providence Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Hershey leads the series 3-1 and can close out Providence with a win in Game 5, which is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. today at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Robert Lee, Providence Journal
For the second consecutive game in the Eastern Conference finals, the Providence Bruins led, 2-0, after one period. And for the second straight game, the P-Bruins lost that lead, and eventually the game. Graham Mink of the Hershey Bears poked his own rebound past Providence goalie Tuukka Rask with 4:50 left in overtime to give Hershey a 3-2 win in front of 5,860 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Peter Gobis, Attleboro Sun Chronicle
Don’t blame Tuukka Rask for the woes that have befallen the Providence Bruins. The heir apparent to the backup goaltending job with the Boston Bruins has allowed just two goals or less in 10 Calder Cup playoff games this season and making 40 saves as he did Sunday night at The Dunk is a feat unto itself. But Rask can’t move the puck out of his own zone and create scoring chances, which have been David Ortiz-ian few in nature for Providence, now on the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference championship series as the Hershey Bears came away with a 3-2 victory in overtime.

Corey Masisak, Washington Times
A typical day in the life of Karl Alzner might seem a bit mundane to some people considering how much hockey consumes him, but he has found his current situation to be far more unbearable. While his Hershey Bears teammates continue their quest for a Calder Cup, Alzner must sit and watch and wait to feel healthy enough to play again. Officially, Alzner is dealing with an "undisclosed injury," but it is clear the 20-year-old defenseman is trying to navigate the aftermath of the first documented concussion of his hockey career.

Andrew Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
In postseason hockey, everything is magnified, from line combinations, to who is starting in goal, right on down to injuries that usually are hidden or made up. But when a team is facing a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series, over-analyzed doesn’t begin to describe every second of every game. And that is where the Aeros find themselves ahead of tonight’s Game 6 in the AHL Western Conference finals against the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg. After winning Games 4 and 5 at Toyota Center, the Aeros are halfway to a hockey rarity: completing a comeback from a 3-0 deficit.

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Will the third time be the charm for the Manitoba Moose or is the Western Conference final going the distance? That’s the million-dollar question going into tonight as the Moose and Houston Aeros resume what has become a highly-entertaining series. After the Moose captured the first three games of the series, the Aeros have bounced back with a pair of wins — one in overtime and another in double overtime — to bring the series back to the MTS Centre.

Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press
Adversity is the boogie monster that hides in the closet of every playoff team. If waking up one brilliant summer morning with the Calder Cup in bed beside you is a player’s dream, eating up adversity and spitting it out is a must. Having dumped two straight games to the Houston Aeros in their best-of-seven Western Conference Final after winning the first three matches, the Manitoba Moose own a 3-2 lead heading into tonight’s Game 6 at the MTS Centre. If a slice of drama is what one requests with their playoffs, the menu is finally set. The Moose took to the ice Sunday for an optional skate and if panic was expected, we’re sorry to disappoint, because the mood was absolutely relaxed.

Judy Owen, Canadian Press
Captain Mike Keane doesn’t think his Manitoba Moose teammates need a pep talk. Even though the Moose have missed two opportunities to capture the best-of-seven AHL Western Conference final series against the Houston Aeros, Keane figures the third time may be the charm for a Game 6 victory at home Monday night. "You just want to not worry about things so much and go out and play our game," Keane said after the team arrived home following back-to-back overtime losses that left them with a 3-2 series lead. "We’re playing really well right now so there’s not too much you have to change. We could have won those games, but we didn’t.

Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In 2003, Dan Bylsma reached the Stanley Cup final as a winger with Anaheim. Last year, he was an assistant with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when that club advanced to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup final. Tomorrow night, Bylsma has a chance to get back to a winner-take-all series. He will mark his 100th day as Penguins coach with a berth in the Stanley Cup final if his team beats Carolina at RBC Center for a sweep in the Eastern Conference final. Not bad for a 38-year-old who had never been a head coach before this season, who was promoted from Wilkes-Barre Feb. 15 when Michel Therrien was fired, and who, at times, has had to stop his head from spinning.

The American Hockey League has announced that several games from the Calder Cup Playoff conference finals will be airing live on the NHL Home Ice channel on Sirius XM Radio and XM Canada, including today’s doubleheader from Providence (4:05 ET) and Winnipeg (8:30 ET).

Valtteri Filppula recorded a goal and two assists to help Detroit to a 6-1 win in Chicago yesterday and a 3-1 series lead in the NHL’s Western Conference finals… Corey Crawford made his NHL postseason debut for the Blackhawks, stopping six of seven shots in a relief appearance.

3 – Goaltenders who have more AHL wins this postseason than they did during the 2008-09 regular season: Hershey’s Michal Neuvirth (11 playoffs, 9 regular season), and Houston’s Anton Khudobin (8 playoffs, 3 regular season) and Matt Climie (1 playoffs, 0 regular season).

5 – Teams in AHL history to win back-to-back overtime games while facing elimination: the 1975 Richmond Robins (vs. Hershey), the 1992 Moncton Hawks (vs. Fredericton), the 2003 Grand Rapids Griffins (vs. Houston), the 2006 Providence Bruins (vs. Portland), and now the 2009 Houston Aeros (vs. Manitoba).

May 25, 2005Joe Corvo tallies a goal and an assist as Chicago earns a spot in the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-1 win over Manitoba, completing a four-game sweep.

May 25, 2002Rick DiPietro stops 15 of 16 shots as Bridgeport evens up the 2002 Calder Cup Final with a 2-1 win over Chicago in Game 2.

May 25, 2001Marty Murray records a goal and two assists to lead Saint John to a 4-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a 3-2 lead in the Calder Cup Final.

May 25, 1998Neil Little makes 29 saves as Philadelphia earns the Western Conference championship and a spot in the Calder Cup Finals with a 3-0 victory at Albany in Game 6, the Phantoms’ seventh straight road win.

May 25, 1997 – Up 3-0 in the conference finals, Hamilton drops a 5-3 decision to Albany in Game 4 as Patrik Elias (1g, 2a) and Sergei Brylin (1g, 1a) pace the River Rats’ offense.

May 25, 1996 – Rochester advances to the Calder Cup Finals with a 6-5 overtime win over Syracuse in Game 5 of their conference final.

May 25, 1994 – Olaf Kolzig turns aside 49 of 50 shots as Portland takes a 3-1 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals with a 2-1 win over Moncton in double overtime.

May 25, 1992Martin Lapointe nets the game-winning goal in Adirondack’s 3-1 victory at St. John’s, giving the Red Wings a 3-2 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals.

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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