AHL Morning Skate: Moose take another shot at title

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.

No games scheduled

HOUSTON 5, Manitoba 4 (OT) (MTB leads series, 3-1)

1. Matt Beaudoin capped a four-point night with his second goal of the game at 2:01 of overtime, extending Houston’s season with a 5-4 win over Manitoba.

2. Mike Keane led the Moose with three points, including his first two-goal game since Oct. 24, 2006.

3. Corey Locke tallied a goal and two assists for the Aeros.

Game 3 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05 (Series tied, 1-1)
Game 5 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:35 (MTB leads series, 3-1)

CC09rd3_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
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 at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
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 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:35
*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 3 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05 (Series tied, 1-1)
The Eastern Conference Finals shift to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence tonight as the Bruins and Hershey Bears suit up for Game 3 following a four-day layoff… The teams split a pair in Hershey last weekend, as the Bruins opened with a 3-2 triumph on Saturday and the Bears came back with a 2-1 win on Sunday… Andrew Joudrey tallied his first career playoff goal in Game 2 for Hershey, and Alexandre Giroux added his team-leading sixth of the postseason for the eventual game-winner… Giroux is now on a four-game scoring run (2-3-5) and also paces the Bears with 14 points in 13 games this spring… After mustering just five shots on goal in the first period on Sunday, the Bears poured 21 on net in the second frame and 13 more in the third for a game total of 39… Bears rookie Oskar Osala posted an assist in Game 2 and shows a team-high three points (2-1-3) through the first two games of the series… First-year goaltender Michal Neuvirth (9-4) stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Bears and came within 36 seconds of his fourth playoff shutout before Bruins rookie Brad Marchand connected on the power play… Marchand ranks second among AHL rookies this postseason with six goals and 13 points in 13 contests, and he’s found the scoresheet in four straight outings (3-2-5)… The Bruins’ power play is 3-for-6 so far in this series and is tops among the four conference finalists at 24.5 percent for the playoffs… Martin St. Pierre is pacing the Bruins with 14 points (5-9-14) in the playoffs but has been held to just one assist in the first two tilts against Hershey… Providence goaltender Tuukka Rask has the AHL’s top playoff save percentage (.943), and his 382 saves are more than any other netminder this spring… The Bruins are 4-2 at home this postseason; Hershey is 2-3 on the road after losing all three games in Wilkes-Barre last round… The Bears are winless in their last eight trips to Providence (0-7-1) since a 4-0 win on Mar. 16, 2001, including a 7-2 loss in their only visit this season… Hershey has scored three goals or fewer in eight consecutive games; during the regular season, the Bears did not go more than six straight contests without scoring four goals in a game.

Game 5 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:35 (MTB leads series, 3-1)
Manitoba takes a second shot at eliminating Houston and moving on to its first Calder Cup Finals tonight as the teams square off for Game 5 of the Western Conference championship series at Toyota Center… The Aeros, who hadn’t held a lead in any of the first three games, saw a pair of one-goal advantages come and go in Wednesday’s Game 4 before finally prevailing by a 5-4 count in overtime… It marked Houston’s first victory over the Moose in eight tries this season… Aeros rookie Matt Beaudoin registered two goals and two assists for a game-high four points, and he scored the game-winner just 2:01 into the extra session… Beaudoin, who leads all AHL rookies with seven goals and 16 points in 18 playoff games, tallied a pair of even-strength goals on Wednesday after his first five postseason markers had all come on the power play… Corey Locke posted three points (1-2-3) in Game 4 for Houston and upped his league-leading totals to 11 goals and 20 points in 18 contests… Beaudoin (4-2-6) and Locke (2-3-5) have combined for 11 points against Manitoba thus far… Houston also received Game 4 goals from Robbie Earl and Tony Hrkac; Earl snapped a five-game goal-scoring drought, and Hrkac broke out of a 12-game skid… Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin made 18 saves in regulation but gave way in overtime to Nolan Schaefer, who earned the rare win without facing a shot on goal… Manitoba captain Mike Keane tallied two goals and an assist to record the first three-point effort of his 335-game career with the Moose, including playoffs… Jason Krog posted a goal and a helper for Manitoba in Game 4, becoming the fifth player in AHL history with 100 career postseason points… Krog leads the Moose and is tied for second in the AHL with 16 points (6-10-16) in just 14 playoff games… Mario Bliznak also scored on Wednesday, forcing OT with his goal at the 17:21 mark of the third period… Cory Schneider made 25 saves as his – and the Moose’s – 10-game winning streak came to an end… Houston’s five even-strength goals in Game 4 were their most in a game since Feb. 12, 2008, at Peoria… The Aeros are 7-5 when facing Calder Cup Playoff elimination, including 3-0 this spring… Manitoba is 9-6 with a chance to send a team home for the summer… Of the 113 teams in AHL history who have faced an 0-3 series deficit, only 13 have rallied to force a Game 6.


Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
When the Atlantic Division finals between the Providence Bruins and Worcester Sharks was tied at 2, Graham Mink pondered the notion of playing against his old club in the Eastern Conference finals. But Providence erased that possibility by eliminating Worcester in six games. “I’m a little relieved, actually,” Mink said. “I’ve got a lot of friends on Worcester. I was there obviously for two years. It would have been good to play against those guys, I think. Mink and the Hershey Bears bused to Providence Thursday for tonight’s Game 3 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. It is an arena the winger knows well from his Worcester days.

Don Scott, Lebanon Daily News
The Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins resume their AHL Eastern Conference best-of-seven affair in Providence with the series tied at one each, thanks to a Hershey 2-1 win Sunday. The Bruins won the opening encounter, and according to Providence assistant coach Bruce Cassidy, any road win is a good one. “We got the lead that took the crowd out of the game and limited the odd-man rushes, especially against an offensive club like the Bears,” he said. “We knew we had to win at least one on the road to advance so we did that.” In his first year as an assistant coach with the Bruins, Cassidy is no stranger to the AHL, or any another league.

Mark Divver, Providence Journal
Tuukka Rask‘s verbal reflexes are every bit as sharp as the physical reflexes he displays when guarding the Providence Bruins’ net. After practice on Thursday morning, discussing his season, his outstanding playoff run and his future, Rask answered quickly and confidently when asked if he’s ready for the NHL. “I’ve felt ready for a long time. Everybody can think what they want, they’ve seen me play. I feel I’m ready,” said Rask. The Hershey Bears, the Bruins’ opponent in Game Three of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center, would probably agree.

Corey Masisak, Washington Times
Quintin Laing is nine weeks removed from a torn spleen and just a few weeks away from free agency. Some players might not want to push their rehabilitation from such a frightening injury, especially considering the uncertainty that looms after the season. But as fans of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals found out the past couple of seasons, Laing is not someone who would think like that. So here he is, practicing with the Bears and hoping to return to the lineup Friday night when Hershey visits the Providence Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
Their 10-game playoff winning streak now in the rear-view mirror, the Manitoba Moose vowed to be better in their next chance to eliminate the Houston Aeros. The Moose dropped a 5-4 overtime decision here Wednesday, allowing the series to continue to tonight’s Game 5. “When things go well, sometimes it’s good you lose and get back on track,” said Moose captain Mike Keane on Thursday, a day off for most Moose regulars. “You might have gotten away from some of the things that got you those victories. Nobody wants to lose games, but we could have won and the bad things that have seeped in could have lingered and that would be no good for the next round.”

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
While it’s clear nobody likes to lose, especially in the playoffs, the Manitoba Moose believe a rare defeat might be the perfect elixir to get them back on track. Despite dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Houston Aeros on Wednesday to snap a 10-game post-season winning streak, the Moose were upbeat as most of them enjoyed a day off in the heart of Texas. “We know we’re going to be better next game and this is probably the best thing that can happen to us,” Moose defenseman Nolan Baumgartner said yesterday in a telephone interview from Houston.

Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
The Aeros don’t want to talk about history, but three straight wins over the Manitoba Moose will get them a golden page in hockey’s record book. The Aeros have survived in the 2009 playoffs longer than most expected, beating West Division rivals Peoria and Milwaukee in the first two rounds respectively. Then, they got caught in the middle of Manitoba’s record 10-game playoff winning streak. Now, after winning Game 4 in overtime, the Aeros are saying all the right things: win one shift, one period and one game at a time. But fans can’t help but wonder if this team is capable of joining the list of what few other athletes have accomplished.

The American Hockey League announced yesterday 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.

Chris Kunitz, who totaled 13 points in 21 Calder Cup Playoff games (2004, 2005), registered a goal and two assists to help Pittsburgh to a 7-4 win over Carolina last night and a 2-0 series lead in the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals… Pat Dwyer picked up an assist in his NHL playoff debut for the Hurricanes after posting 24 goals and 40 points in 62 AHL games this season as Albany’s captain.

– Days since Hershey last played a game outside Pennsylvania, a visit to Bridgeport exactly seven weeks ago (Apr. 3)… The Bears played 17 consecutive games in the Keystone State before heading to Providence tonight.

0-6 – Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider’s career AHL record in playoff overtime games.

12-1 – Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider’s career AHL record in playoff games decided in regulation.

May 22, 2004Jed Ortmeyer’s third-period goal helps Hartford to a 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

May 22, 2003 – Jarret Stoll sets an AHL playoff record with a goal just four seconds into the third period, helping Hamilton to an 8-3 win over Binghamton and a berth in the Calder Cup Finals… Marc Cavosie scores twice as Houston wins the Western Conference title with a 2-1 win in Game 7 at Grand Rapids.

May 22, 2002 – Raffi Torres breaks a scoreless tie with 1:27 left in regulation and Rick DiPietro posts the fifth Game 7 shutout in AHL history as Bridgeport advances to the Calder Cup Finals with a 3-0 win over Hamilton.

May 22, 1998 – Mike Maneluk (3g, 1a) and Jim Montgomery (1g, 4a) lead Philadelphia to a 7-3 win over Albany and a 3-1 lead in their conference final series.

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.