PORTLAND 6, SPRINGFIELD 4
Mathieu Darche (2-1-3) and AHL All-Rookie forward Tim Kennedy (1-2-3) each led the way with three points as Portland grabbed a 6-4 win over Springfield on Sunday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The victory propelled the Pirates (37-30-3-7, 84 points) one point ahead of Worcester for third place in the Atlantic Division. Portland improved to 5-1-0-1 in its last seven contests.
The game was deadlocked at 3-3 entering the third period before Murphy made it 4-3 at the five-minute mark. Darche scored shorthanded at 12:25, and after Springfield’s Mike Gabinet lit the lamp at 14:00, Darche added an empty-netter in the final minute.
BRIDGEPORT 6, ALBANY 3
Jon Sim’s four-point afternoon included his first hat trick of the season for Bridgeport and helped the Sound Tigers past Albany by a 6-3 count at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Sunday.
Sim scored his 10th, 11th, and 12th goals since joining Bridgeport in early March and extended his current point-scoring streak to five games (4-6-10). All three of Sim’s goals came with the Sound Tigers on a 5-on-3 power play, and Bridgeport tied an AHL season high with five power play goals in total (5-for-12).
Trevor Smith contributed a goal and two assists for the Sound Tigers, who also received tallies from Ben Walter and defenseman Joe Callahan. Mike Iggulden posted two assists, and goaltender Peter Mannino earned the win with 30 saves in net.
The victory allowed the Sound Tigers close within two points of Hershey atop the East Division with two games to play. The Bears own one game in hand.
LOWELL 4, HARTFORD 3
It was a bittersweet day for the Lowell Devils, as they edged division-leading Hartford by a 4-3 final only to be eliminated from playoff contention when Portland defeated Springfield.
Lowell’s Jon DiSalvatore provided the winning goal at 3:51 of the third period, scoring his 20th goal of the season and the Devils’ third power play marker of the afternoon.
Vladimir Zharkov, Rosario Ruggeri, and Pascal Rheaume also lit the lamp for Lowell, and rookie goaltender Jeff Frazee picked up the victory with 30 saves in net. The Devils improved to 5-2-0-0 against Hartford this season.
The Wolf Pack received goals from Patrick Rissmiller, Corey Potter, and Jordan Owens. Hartford’s four-game winning streak came to an end, and its lead on Providence for first place in the Atlantic was reduced to two points.
PROVIDENCE 3, MANCHESTER 2
A day after clinching their 11th straight playoff berth, Providence kept alive its hopes for a second straight division title with a 3-2 win over visiting Manchester at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday.
Vladimir Sobotka picked up an assist in the first period and then tallied the game-winner for the Bruins 8:45 into the third, breaking a 2-2 tie.
The Bruins closed to within two points of Hartford for the Atlantic Division lead with four games to play.
PHILADELPHIA 3, NORFOLK 0
Philadelphia moved into sole possession of fourth place in the East Division with a 3-0 blanking of Norfolk on Sunday before 8,933 fans at the Wachovia Spectrum. It marked the Phantoms’ sixth straight win, one shy of the season-high seven in a row they captured from Dec. 5-19.
David Laliberte scored twice for the Phantoms and defenseman Michael Ratchuk also found the back of the net, all three goals coming in the first period. Jonathan Matsumoto chipped in a pair of assists on the afternoon.
Phantoms goaltender Scott Munroe made 30 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season and 30th victory (30-19-3), which ranks fourth in the league.
Philadelphia (42-29-2-4, 90 points), which was 12 points back of Binghamton just a couple of weeks ago, is now a point up on the Senators for the division’s fourth and final postseason entry. Both clubs have three games remaining.
The Admirals dropped to 0-2-1-0 in their last three contests.
GRAND RAPIDS 3, ROCHESTER 0
Grand Rapids capped its franchise-record eight-game road swing with a 3-0 victory over last-place Rochester on Sunday at Blue Cross Arena.
Darren McCarty, Darren Haydar, and rookie Francis Pare all netted goals for the Griffins, and defenseman Brian Lashoff added two assists to give him five points (1-4-5) in his first four professional games.
Grand Rapids goaltender Jimmy Howard made 21 saves to record the shutout, which was his fourth and the team’s ninth of the season. Prior to Sunday, the Griffins hadn’t recorded a whitewash since a 4-0 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 10.
The victory lifts the Griffins (43-23-6-6, 98 points) two points up on Hamilton in the race for home-ice advantage in the teams’ upcoming North Division semifinal series.
MILWAUKEE 3, CHICAGO 2
A three-goal first period held up as Milwaukee captured a 3-2 win over visiting Chicago on Sunday before 8,236 fans at the Bradley Center.
Ryan Maki had a hand in all three goals for the Admirals, scoring shorthanded at 5:16 and then assisting on a pair of markers from Andreas Thuresson, who recorded his first multiple-goal effort since Nov. 22.
After a scoreless second period, Joe Motzko and Brett Sterling scored late in the third period as the Wolves attempted a comeback. But they could not get the equalizer and were eliminated from playoff contention, becoming the second consecutive Calder Cup champion to miss the tournament the following season.
Admirals goaltender Drew MacIntyre, a Second Team AHL All-Star, made 30 saves in the winning effort. MacIntyre (32-15-4) is now in a three-way tie with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s John Curry and Providence’s Tuukka Rask for the league lead in victories.
Milwaukee has put together back-to-back wins for the first time since Mar. 15-18.