TORONTO 6, PROVIDENCE 4
The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for February, Jiri Tlusty continued his sizzling play of late with two goals and four assists to lead Toronto to a 6-4 win over Providence on Wednesday at Ricoh Coliseum.
Tlusty registered the first six-point game in the AHL this season and has racked up 34 points (16-18-34) in his last 15 games.
Marlies leading scorer Tim Stapleton, reassigned by the parent Maple Leafs on Tuesday, posted two goals and two helpers in the winning effort, matching a season high with the four points.
Williams now shows 12 points (7-5-12) in nine games since being reassigned from the NHL, and Stralman has registered eight points (4-4-8) in his last three contests.
Marlies goaltender Justin Pogge made 22 saves to emerge with the victory, helping Toronto open a five-point edge on idle Syracuse for the final playoff spot in the North Division. The Marlies also ended a three-game home losing skid.
Rookie Mikko Lehtonen scored twice for the Bruins, who also received markers from Vladimir Sobotka and first-year pro Brad Marchand, who extended his scoring streak to eight games (4-8-12). Ontario native Martin St. Pierre (0-3-3) and AHL defensemen scoring leader Johnny Boychuk (0-2-2) each registered multiple assists.
Providence is now winless in three straight games (0-2-0-1) and dropped into a first-place tie with Hartford in the Atlantic Division.
HARTFORD 3, WORCESTER 1
Second-year pro Artem Anisimov scored two goals and assisted on the other as Hartford kept surging with a 3-1 win over visiting Worcester at the XL Center.
The Wolf Pack (34-23-2-3, 73 points) extended their season-high winning streak to seven games and moved into a first-place tie with Providence in the Atlantic Division.
Rookie Matt Zaba, the Reebok X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for February, made 34 saves to improve to 18-8-0 for the season.
AHL All-Star defenseman Derek Joslin netted a power play goal for the Sharks, who fell three points back of Manchester for the Atlantic Division’s final playoff spot.
MANCHESTER 5, SPRINGFIELD 1
Manchester continued its push for a playoff spot with a 5-1 win over visiting Springfield at the Verizon Wireless Arena, giving the Monarchs a sweep of their home-and-home set with the Falcons.
Manchester improved to 11-3-0-1 since Feb. 4 and took a two-point lead on Lowell for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic.
Ryan Potulny netted the Falcons’ lone goal in the losing effort.
GRAND RAPIDS 3, ROCKFORD 1
Grand Rapids scored once in each period to upend a shorthanded Rockford squad by a 3-1 count at Van Andel Arena.
Rookie Francis Pare netted his 20th goal of the season for the Griffins, who also received tallies from Ville Leino and Ryan Oulahen. Leino was playing in his first game for Grand Rapids since Jan. 24.
Jack Skille tallied the lone goal for the IceHogs, who were without their top three scorers and saw their three-game points streak (2-0-0-1) come to an end.
PHILADELPHIA 4, NORFOLK 3
Jonathan Matsumoto’s power play goal with 4:50 to play in regulation lifted Philadelphia to a 4-3 win over visiting Norfolk on Wednesday before 7,119 fans at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia goaltender Scott Munroe stopped 30 of 33 shots between the pipes to snap a personal four-game losing skid and pick up his first victory since Feb. 11 at Lowell.
With the victory coupled with Binghamton’s loss on Wednesday, the Phantoms moved within five points of the Senators for the East Division’s final playoff spot, and Philadelphia holds two games in hand.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 3, BINGHAMTON 1
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rallied from a first-period deficit to post a 3-1 win over Binghamton before 6,111 fans at the Wachovia Arena.
Binghamton took a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza when defenseman Brian Lee netted a power play goal at the 5:42 mark.
Penguins forward Jeff Taffe tied it 17:35 into the second with his 20th goal of the season, and Nick Johnson netted the eventual game-winner on the power play 7:24 into the third. Janne Pesonen added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
Penguins goaltender John Curry made 19 saves on 20 shots to earn the victory and help Wilkes-Barre/Scranton avoid its first three-game winless skid since November.
The Pens (38-19-2-2, 80 points) moved into a tie with idle Bridgeport for second place in the East Division race.
PEORIA 5, QUAD CITY 2
Five different players netted goals as Peoria responded from a tough weekend in Winnipeg with a 5-2 win over visiting Quad City on Wednesday.
Flames forward Kyle Greentree converted a penalty shot in the second period, and Carsen Germyn tallied a power play marker in the third frame. Quad City suffered its sixth consecutive loss at Carver Arena dating back to last season.
Peoria moved within five points of Houston for the fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the West Division.