AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take 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.
*if necessary… All times Eastern… (WC) – WachoviaCenter
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 3 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, (Series tied, 1-1)
The East Division finals shift down I-476 for Game 3 tonight as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Philadelphia tangle at the WachoviaCenter… The teams split the first two games in Wilkes-Barre, most recently a 5-4 overtime win by the Penguins in Game 2 on Saturday… The Pens erased a three-goal third-period deficit in that game, tying the score on Kurtis McLean’s first goal of the playoffs with 45.4 seconds left in regulation… Chris Minard got his second overtime goal of this postseason with 2:07 gone in the extra frame to win it… It was Minard’s seventh goal of the playoffs, tying him with teammate Tim Brent for the league lead… Brent has lit the lamp in three straight games and has points in 13 straight going back to the regular season (10-10-20)… 2008 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski chipped in a pair of assists in Game 2, extending his scoring streak to six contests (2-9-11)… The Phantoms scored three goals in 77 seconds to take a 4-1 lead in Game 2, including two by Boyd Kane… Ryan Potulny and Lars Jonsson each had a goal and an assist in the loss, which snapped Philadelphia’s three-game road winning streak… Stefan Ruzicka, who had a pair of assists in Game 2, leads all scorers with five points (2-3-5) in the series… The Phantoms are 4-for-13 (30.8%) on the power play through the first two contests… The Penguins have lost five straight postseason games in the big building in South Philly going back to 2004.
DESPERATION HOCKEY SUITS ICEHOGS
Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
The Rockford IceHogs finally got it right against the Chicago Wolves. That was the prevailing theme in the locker room after a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of their AHL West Division best-of-seven finals. Trailing only 2-1 in the series suddenly doesn’t seem as overwhelming as being down 2-0 felt 18 hours earlier. “That’s really huge, going against one of the best teams in the league,” said IceHogs goalie Corey Crawford of avoiding a third straight loss. “It was fun to come back here and play in front of our fans.” The entire team had to respond after Saturday’s 7-3 setback at Allstate Arena. Crawford knows he was at the top of the list. “Even if you lost that big, a loss is a loss,” he said about Saturday.
Corey Crawford has long been touted as the Blackhawks’ goaltender of the future, and Sunday he played like it. The Wolves scored 11 goals on Crawford’s IceHogs in the first two games of their AHL West Division championship series, but there was no such picking on Crawford on Sunday, when his team won 3-1 at the MetroCentre. Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots, allowing only Bryan Little’s power-play goal with 76 seconds left in the game and his team safely ahead. “[Crawford] was better, but it made it an easier game with guys getting in their shooting lanes and blocking shots,” IceHogs coach Mike Haviland said. “We played playoff hockey. It was a huge game for us.”
The Syracuse Crunch headed back to its barn on Sunday night already feeling all of the comforts of home. The players rolled out of Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum with the cheers of family and a large group of traveling Crunch supporters ringing in their ears. A commanding North Division final series lead was tucked in their duffel bags. And if things go any smoother on the ice, the team might as well kick back in some recliners and start munching popcorn at center ice. That’s the type of heady feeling the Crunch earned after topping the host Marlies 3-1 in Game 2 of their series, courtesy of another magician’s performance by goalie Karl Goehring and markers from Zenon Konopka, Derek MacKenzie and Mark Rycroft.
There were a lot of blank faces and empty gazes in the Marlie dressing room yesterday after they dropped a second consecutive game to the Syracuse Crunch. It wasn’t so much the Marlies lost 3-1 to the Crunch, it was the way the home side again failed to play up to its potential. Down 1-0 in the best-of-seven North Division final, Toronto handed over a two-man advantage to Syracuse before the game was even two minutes old. And Syracuse took advantage, with captain Zenon Konopka spinning around in the slot to slam home a loose puck at of the first. “I think this loss was based mostly (on) our team being undisciplined,” defenseman Andy Wozniewski said.
The Portland Pirates went into overtime for the second consecutive game in their AHL playoff series with the Providence Bruins and came out a winner again. Right wing Simon Ferguson scored his first goal of the playoffs on a shot from the left point 6:30 into sudden-death overtime to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Atlantic Division finals before 3,268 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Ferguson’s goal came less than 48 hours after rookie defenseman Brendan Mikkelson scored into overtime to lift the Pirates to a 4-3 win in Game 3. Portland evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night at the CivicCenter. Ferguson, who scored six goals in 60 regular-season games, actually didn’t see the puck skip past goalie Tuukka Rask.
With one possible exception, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins probably got a good night’s sleep Sunday before heading to Philadelphia for Game 3 of the East Division finals tonight at the WachoviaCenter. The possible exception is defenseman Alain Nasreddine. He’s the only player on the team who was with the Penguins the last time they played a postseason game at the big building in Philadelphia. It was a nightmare of epic proportions. Leading Game 5 of the 2005 East Division finals 4-1, the Penguins completely collapsed, giving up four goals in less than six minutes and ultimately seeing their season end with a 7-4 loss.
Lauri Korpikoski, who has appeared in 23 Calder Cup Playoff games with Hartford over the last three springs, scored a goal in his NHL debut but the N.Y. Rangers dropped a 3-2 decision to Pittsburgh in Game 5.
Former Calder Cup champions Patrick Sharp (2005) and Mike Green (2006) netted a goal apiece, as did 1999 AHL All-Star Martin St. Louis, to lead Canada to a 7-0 win over Latvia yesterday at the IIHF World Championships in Halifax… 1997 AHL All-Star Patrik Elias tallied a hat trick in the CzechRepublic’s 5-4 loss to Russia in Quebec City.
BY THE NUMBERS:
6 – Years since two sets of NHL and AHL affiliates met each other in playoff series at the same time in both leagues (Toronto/N.Y. Islanders, St. John’s/Bridgeport in 2002)… The Penguins and Flyers organizations will officially be squaring off in both leagues when the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals begin on Friday.
ON THIS DATE:
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 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, 2000 – J.P. Dumont scores twice and Mika Noronen makes 32 saves for his record sixth shutout of the postseason as Rochester moves into the conference finals with a 3-0 win over Hamilton.
May 5, 1993 – Bill McDougall celebrates the fifth day of the fifth month with an AHL playoff record-tying five goals (and an assist) in CapeBreton’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 goal allows the Providence Reds to avoid a sweep with a 5-4 win over Hershey in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals.
ON THE AIR:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts of every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.