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Eastern Conference notebook

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The River Rats welcomed a crowd of 7,039 to the Times Union Center for their opening-night 4-2 loss to Bridgeport on Saturday, marking the largest crowd for a Rats game since Mar. 10, 2007… Newcomer Dwight Helminen, who scored 32 goals for Hartford in 2005-06, registered a goal and an assist for the River Rats in the opener, and defenseman Mark Flood also scored… Rookie center Nick Dodge, a graduate of Clarkson University, registered an assist in his professional debut… Albany now has an overall record of 7-7-2 in 16 season openers.
 
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Binghamton posted a pair of road wins to open its 2008-09 campaign, marking just the second time that the Senators began a season 2-0-0-0… The B-Sens also accomplished the feat in 2003-04, when they started with five straight victories en route to a postseason berth… Goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 66 of 68 shots in the two victories last week, which came by one- and two-goal margins… Josh Hennessy scored his 50th goal as a member of the Senators in Friday’s 2-1 win at Toronto… Sunday’s win at Rochester pushed Binghamton’s all-time record against the Amerks to 25-13-3-3-3 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL).
 
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Mike Iggulden, an AHL All-Star last season with Worcester, has begun his career in a Sound Tigers uniform on a three-game scoring streak (1-3-4), including the first goal of Bridgeport’s season on Friday at Philadelphia… Second-year forward Trevor Smith, who had a two-goal game and a hat trick in the final month of last season, netted a pair of goals in Bridgeport’s 4-2 win at Albany on Saturday… Rookie goaltender Peter Mannino started his first professional game on Sunday at Hartford, making 34 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss… After visiting Wilkes-Barre on Friday, Bridgeport plays its home opener at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday against Albany.
 
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Hartford fell to Springfield by a 4-3 final last Saturday to kick off the 2008-09 season… The Wolf Pack have now dropped three straight season-openers, all at home and all by one goal, and two of the three losses have come at the hands of the Falcons… Hartford was outshot by Springfield 16-8 in the second period of that loss; aside from that, the Wolf Pack enjoyed a total shots advantage of 65-26 over its first two games, which also included a 2-1 shootout win over Bridgeport on Sunday… Defenseman Brian Fahey registered eight shots in his Wolf Pack debut on Saturday, matching the Pack’s single-game individual season high from all of last year… Hartford travels to square off with North Division foes Hamilton and Toronto this weekend.
 
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Hershey’s 3-0-0-0 start is its best since the 1999-00 campaign… The Bears have outscored opponents 17-10 in the three games, including an 8-4 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the AHL’s opening night… The eight goals were more than Hershey scored in any game last season, and their most since an 8-3 win over Binghamton on the final day of the 2005-06 campaign… Graham Mink, a member of Hershey’s 2006 Calder Cup title team, shows four goals and six points in his first three games back with the team… Goaltender Simeon Varlamov picked up his first career AHL win in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout victory at Norfolk.
 
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The Devils outlasted Worcester by a 6-4 final in their home opener last Saturday; Lowell scored six or more goals in a game just twice during the 2007-08 campaign… Rookie forward Matt Halischuk tallied four goals and five points in that contest… An AHL player did not have a four-goal performance last season until Peoria’s Jean-Guy Trudel on Dec. 28… Lowell’s power play is clicking at 25.0% (4-for-16) through the season’s first two games… The Devils play a home-and-home this weekend with arch-rival Manchester, against whom they went 7-3-0-0 last season.
 
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Manchester’s 6-3 defeat in Portland on Saturday marked their sixth loss in eight all-time season openers… The Monarchs look to improve on a 4-3-0-0 record in home openers this coming Saturday against Lowell… Center Marty Murray was named the seventh captain in Monarchs history last weekend… Last season’s captain, forward Gabe Gauthier, will serve as an alternate captain in 2008-09 along with defenseman Drew Bagnall… Center Trevor Lewis sits atop Manchester’s early scoring leader board after collecting a pair of assists in the opener against Portland.
 
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With their 5-3 loss to Hershey on Friday, Norfolk dropped to 4-3-0-1-0 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) all-time in season openers and 4-3-1-0-0 in home openers… Defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, a first-round draft pick (30th overall) by Tampa Bay in 2005, notched his first points of the season with a pair of assists in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Bears… Defenseman Daryl Boyle registered his first professional point, an assist, in that game… After Hershey went 5-for-7 on the power play in their season opener, the Admirals held them to two goals on 12 chances during the two-game set last weekend.
 
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The Phantoms went 1-1-0-0 on their opening weekend, talking a 2-1 decision over Bridgeport on home ice and falling to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the road by a 4-3 count… The game against the Sound Tigers marked the final home opener Philadelphia will play in the Wachovia Spectrum… Second-year center Darroll Powe leads the Phantoms thus far with two points (1-1-2), both coming in the loss to the Penguins… Goaltender Scott Munroe stopped 30 of 31 shots in taking the win over Bridgeport in the season opener.
 
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In the first game of their new era as the Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate, Portland posted a 6-3 home-ice win over Manchester on Saturday… In the first season of their previous NHL affiliations, the Pirates won the Calder Cup (1993-94, Washington) and reached Game 7 of the conference finals (2005-06, Anaheim)… Mark Mancari tallied a hat trick and a five-point night in his Pirates debut, marking Portland’s first hat trick since Jan. 9, 2008… Lone returnee Tyler Bouck scored a pair of goals in the win over Manchester… Rookie Tim Kennedy registered a goal and two assists in his pro debut.
 
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Providence has opened defense of its regular-season title with a pair of extra-session 4-3 wins, defeating Lowell in a shootout and Springfield in overtime, both at home… The P-Bruins have now won their last two season-openers… Vladimir Sobotka, recalled by Boston earlier this week, posted a goal and an assist in the opener and scored the winning shootout goal against the Falcons… Three-time AHL All-Star Martin St. Pierre has registered three points (1-2-3) in his first two games as a Bruin… Providence is 5-for-18 (27.8%) on the power play thus far… After hosting Springfield on Friday, the Bruins will play six straight road games.
 
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Springfield captured its fifth straight season-opening win with a 4-3 victory at arch-rival Hartford on Saturday… The Falcons last dropped their opener in the 2003-04 campaign, a 5-2 loss at Providence on Oct. 10, 2003… Second-year forward Viacheslav Trukhno, who recorded 19 points over his final 21 games last season, shows three assists in the first two games of this season… Ryan Potulny, who ended the longest game in AHL history for Philadelphia last postseason, netted a pair of goals in Falcons debut at Hartford, including the game-winner… A veteran of 146 NHL games, including 61 with Columbus last season, Gilbert Brule has three points (2-1-3) in his first two games with Springfield this year.
 
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Fourth-year pro Ryan Stone recorded two goals and three points in the Penguins’ season-opening 8-4 loss to Hershey on Oct. 8, matching his career bests for goals and points in a game… Second-year defenseman Jon D’Aversa registered his first AHL three-assist and three-point game on opening night… D’Aversa’s only other multiple-point effort came when he had a goal and an assist at Philadelphia on Nov. 14, 2007… Jeff Taffe, who appeared in Pittsburgh’s season-opening game in Sweden, was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last weekend… A former AHL All-Star, Taffe began last season with the AHL Penguins and recorded 21 points in 27 games before his recall.
 
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The Sharks dropped a season opener for the first time in their three-year history on Saturday, falling by a 6-4 count in Lowell… Cory Larose, a former 30-goal scorer in the AHL who reached the Calder Cup Finals with Chicago in 2005, netted a pair of goals in his Sharks debut… Former AHL All-Star Ryan Vesce registered a pair of assists in his first game for Worcester… Rookie defenseman Jason Demers recorded a helper in his first professional contest… The Sharks travel to Glens Falls, N.Y., to battle Albany on Friday before hosting Providence in their opener at the DCU Center on Saturday.