East Notes: Pens clinch playoffs, Atlantic race close

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Albany has currently lost four straight games in regulation for the first time all season and is winless in five straight overall (0-4-0-1)… The River Rats’ last win came courtesy of goaltender Justin Peters’s 32-save shutout in a 2-0 triumph over Philadelphia on Mar. 22… Rookie Brandon Sutter netted his second shorthanded goal of the season on Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Springfield… Defenseman Mark Flood has a point in three straight games (0-3-3) and four of his last five outings (0-4-4)… Albany hosts Worcester in Glens Falls on Friday before visiting Binghamton and Bridgeport to close out the weekend.
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Binghamton goaltender Jeff Glass earned his 15th win of the season on Saturday vs. Rochester to match his win total from the 2007-08 campaign… Defenseman Matt Taormina shows two goals and three assists for five points in his first eight professional games… Binghamton has topped the 30-shot plateau in eight straight games and is now averaging 30.52 shots per game, the 11th-highest total in the league… The B-Sens have scored a league-high 87 power play goals this season and continue to boast the AHL’s top conversion rate at 23.8 percent.
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Bridgeport’s 5-3 win at Albany on Tuesday snapped a three-game regulation losing skid and assured that the Sound Tigers will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006… The Sound Tigers’ four remaining regular-season contests are the fewest of any Eastern Conference team… Goaltender Nathan Lawson is the third Sound Tiger in club history to make the AHL All-Rookie Team, following defenseman Chris Campoli in 2005 and goaltender Wade Dubielewicz in 2004… Jon Sim is riding a three-game scoring streak (1-4-5)… Bridgeport hosts Hershey on Friday and Albany on Saturday.
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Hartford’s 5-1 win at Albany on Friday was its 13th straight in head-to-head competition with the River Rats, extending what was already a franchise record for most consecutive wins over a single opponent… The Wolf Pack’s last loss to the Rats was a 5-1 road defeat on Jan. 14, 2005, and the Pack are now 15(w)-4(l)-2(t)-1(otl) in 22 all-time visits to Albany… Rookie goaltender Matt Zaba, who returned last week from a three-week injury absence, is 11-2-0 in his last 13 appearances and is 13-for-14 in stopping shootout attempts for the season… The Atlantic-leading Wolf Pack visit second-place Providence on Friday and host Lowell on Sunday.
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Hershey has dropped back-to-back contests following its five-game winning streak… The Bears visit their two rivals for the East Division title this weekend, traveling to Bridgeport on Friday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday… Alexandre Giroux has netted a goal in six of his last seven games (8-5-13) to boost his league-leading total to 55 for the season… Chris Bourque shows a goal in three of his last four outings (3-4-7) and has a point in 11 of his last 12 contests (7-13-20)… Hershey has clinched its third 100-point season in the last four years.
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Lowell has a point in three straight games (2-0-0-1) but still finds itself four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with six games to play… Rookies Alexander Vasyunov (2-2-4) and Vladimir Zharkov (0-4-4) are both on three-game scoring streaks for the Devils… Lowell remains one of three AHL teams that has not lost in regulation when leading after two periods (22-0-0-2)… Rookie goaltender Jeff Frazee has posted a shutout in two straight starts against Worcester, totaling 76 saves over that span… The Devils host Portland and Springfield this weekend before visiting Hartford on Sunday.
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Manchester had dropped each of its last three shootouts before capturing a 3-2 decision over Lowell on Wednesday… The Monarchs have appeared in a league-high 16 shootouts overall and are an even 8-8 in those contests… Kevin Westgarth’s goal on Wednesday was his first since Feb. 14 vs. Lake Erie… Richard Clune has contributed an assist in his last two outings… Manchester has surrendered 202 goals this season, the lowest total in the Atlantic Division and tied with Bridgeport for fewest in the Eastern Conference… The Monarchs host Springfield and Worcester this weekend and travel to Providence on Sunday.
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On Sunday night, Brandon Bochenski became the 18th different player to have suited up for both Norfolk and the parent Tampa Bay Lightning this season… Eight members of the 2008-09 Admirals have made their NHL debuts with the Lightning this season… Justin Keller’s three-game scoring streak (1-2-3) and 13-game home scoring streak (10-7-17) ended in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Grand Rapids… Defenseman Brent Henley has five points (0-5-5) in 14 March games after entering the month with one point, an assist, in 31 games for the season… Norfolk wraps up its home-ice schedule this weekend with a pair of games against Philadelphia.
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Philadelphia was 12 points out of a playoff spot on the morning of Mar. 14 but has now closed to within three points of Binghamton for the East Division’s final berth… The Phantoms are currently on their first three-game winning streak since mid-January and show a 7-2-0-2 mark in their last nine contests… On Saturday vs. Grand Rapids, Rob Sirianni and Jonathan Matsumoto became the first Phantoms teammates to record a hat trick in the same game… Each added another goal in Sunday’s rematch with the Griffins… Philadelphia plays its next three games against last-place Norfolk.
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Portland’s three-game winning streak came to an end on Wednesday in a 5-3 loss at Hartford… The Pirates finished 1-4-2-1 against the Wolf Pack this season, and seven of the teams’ eight meetings were decided by either one or two goals… Colin Murphy scored on Wednesday and shows 10 points (6-4-10) in his last eight games… AHL All-Rookie forward Tim Kennedy has netted a goal in three of his last four games (2-2-4)… Marek Zagrapan shows nine points (4-5-9) in his last six tilts, and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani is on a four-game scoring run (2-3-5).
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Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is Providence’s second representative on the AHL’s First All-Star Team is as many seasons, following Pascal Pelletier’s selection in 2007-08… Boychuk is currently riding a four-game scoring streak (3-4-7), which includes game-winning goals on Mar. 22 vs. Hartford and Friday vs. Manchester… Zach Hamill also has a point in four straight tilts (3-1-4) for the Bruins, and Vladimir Sobotka shows one in three of his last four contests (2-2-4)… Providence had won seven straight games from Worcester prior to Sunday’s 4-1 loss at home… The second-place Bruins host Atlantic-leading Hartford on Friday.
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Springfield wrapped up the home portion of its 2008-09 schedule at 14-19-5-2 following Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Worcester… The Falcons wrap up the season with five straight on the road, including games this weekend in Manchester, Lowell, and Portland… Ryan Potulny has racked up a seven-game scoring streak (6-4-10), and his 33 goals on the season are more than double anyone else on the team… The 33 markers also rank tied for fourth overall in the AHL… Jordan Eberle registered a point in his first three pro games (1-2-3) before being held scoreless on Wednesday vs. the Sharks.
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At 47-24-2-2 (98 points), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is closing in on its fourth consecutive 100-point campaign and has clinched its seventh straight berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs… The Penguins reached the Calder Cup Finals last season and also in 2001 and 2004… Chris Minard set a new personal high with four points (2-2-4) in Saturday’s 5-2 triumph over Toronto… Minard set new team records for goals in a season (32) and career power play goals (32) with his second-period tally against Grand Rapids on Mar. 25… The team’s 125 goals on the road are the most the Penguins have scored away from home in any season. The Pens host Hershey on Saturday in their lone game of the weekend.
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Worcester has won four of its last five games (4-1-0-0), all while captain and leading scorer Ryan Vesce has been on NHL recall to San Jose… The Sharks’ last three losses have each been via the shutout, two at the hands of Lowell rookie Jeff Frazee… The Sharks are an AHL-best 7-1 in overtime this season, including a 4-0 mark against Springfield alone… Due to the overtime success, Worcester has been involved in a league-low four shootouts (2-2)… Goaltender Thomas Greiss has started 11 straight games in net (6-5-0) and shows a 2.01 goals-against average and .927 save percentage over that span.