SYRACUSE 5, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Defenseman Brendan Bell tallied the game-winning goal and captain Derek MacKenzie racked up four assists as Syracuse collected a critical 5-2 win over visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
The victory pulled the Crunch within five points of the Penguins, who are currently tied with Providence and Bridgeport for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason berth. Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre have each played 62 games, and that duo each holds one game in hand on the Bruins and two on the Sound Tigers.
The four points marked a season high for MacKenzie, who extended his scoring streak to five games (2-8-10).
Crunch goaltender Kevin Lalande earned the win between the pipes with 35 saves on 37 shots.
HAMILTON 5, CHICAGO 4 (SO)
Hamilton scored on each of its last three shootout attempts to take a thrilling 5-4 win over visiting Chicago on Friday in a battle of division leaders at Copps Coliseum.
Wolves goaltender Drew MacIntyre denied P.K. Subban and Aaron Palushaj in the first two shootout rounds, but Brock Trotter, Ryan Russell, and Shawn Belle notched goal in succession to give Hamilton the victory.
The Bulldogs appeared headed for a regulation victory when Mike Glumac’s second goal of the night broke a 3-3 tie with 1:34 to play in regulation, but Joey Crabb tied it back up for the Wolves just 15 seconds later.
Bulldogs goaltender Curtis Sanford stopped three of Chicago’s four shootout tries after making 29 saves through the first 65 minutes, helping Hamilton to its seventh straight victory and fourth in as many tries against the Wolves this season.
BRIDGEPORT 5, PORTLAND 4
Bridgeport rallied for a pair of third-period goals to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win over visiting Portland on Friday at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Bridgeport goaltender Nathan Lawson earned the victory with 28 saves between the pipes.
Philip Gogulla and defenseman Mike Weber each posted a goal and an assist for the Pirates, who also got tallies from Nathan Gerbe and blueliner Marc-Andre Gragnani. Mark Mancari posted two assists in the loss.
GRAND RAPIDS 4, MANITOBA 1
Jeremy Williams racked up two goals and an assist as Grand Rapids collected a 4-1 win over visiting Manitoba in the opener of a two-game set at Van Andel Arena.
Attendance was 9,561 for the first meeting of the season between the division rivals, who last clashed in the 2009 North Division Finals.
Williams notched his 22nd and 23rd goal of the season 4:25 apart in the first period, both on the power play, to stake the Griffins to as 2-0 lead.
Moose defenseman Lawrence Nycholat cut the deficit in half at 18:18 of the second frame, but Griffins rearguard Logan Pyatt responded just 45 seconds later. It remained a 3-1 game until Patrick Rissmiller added a late empty-netter for Grand Rapids.
Grand Rapids halted a five-game winless skid (0-4-0-1) and will go for a second straight win when it hosts the Moose in a rematch on Saturday.
MANCHESTER 2, PROVIDENCE 1
Providence finally broke its scoring drought against Manchester, but the Monarchs still prevailed by a 2-1 final over the host Bruins on Friday before 7,459 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Rookie Dwight King extended his scoring streak to four games (1-3-4) with a first-period goal for the Monarchs, and David Meckler’s tally at 1:44 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and stood up as the game-winner.
It snapped the Bruins’ scoring drought against Manchester at 281:58, which spanned six different games and included a string of four straight Monarchs shutouts. Providence had last scored a goal against Manchester on Nov. 22, when Andrew Bodnarchuk beat Bernier in the third period of a 5-4 Bruins win.
Rookie Corey Elkins assisted on Meckler’s game-winning marker on Friday, and Bernier finished with 31 saves (26-16-5) in the winning effort.
NORFOLK 3, ALBANY 2 (SO)
Norfolk scored on four of its five shootout tries to take a 3-2 win over visiting Albany on Friday in the opener of a two-game set at the Scope.
Rookie Chris Terry gave Albany a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but Norfolk’s Adam Hall and Keller scored second-period goals to put the Admirals on top. But River Rats defenseman Jamie McBain tallied the equalizer just 26 seconds into the third frame.
Admirals goaltender Jaroslav Janus stopped two of Albany’s four shootout tries after making 26 saves on 28 shots through the first 65 minutes.
Terry and McBain each notched shootout goals for the River Rats, who will seek revenge when the teams play again on Saturday night.
ROCHESTER 5, ADIRONDACK 2
Rochester erupted for four goals in the third period and ran away with a 5-2 road win over Adirondack before a sellout crowd of 4,906 fans at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Rochester rookie netminder Alexander Salak turned aside 24 of 26 shots to pick up his fourth straight win in net and 27th on the season (27-12-0).
BINGHAMTON 5, SPRINGFIELD 3
A three-goal third period propelled Binghamton to a 5-3 road win over Springfield on Friday at the MassMutual Center.
The Senators, who collected a 4-1 triumph in Lowell on Wednesday, earned back-to-back victories for the first time since defeating Adirondack and Bridgeport on Jan. 22-23.
Zack Smith and Martin St. Pierre each registered a goal and an assist for Binghamton, which also received markers from Kaspars Daugavins and Jonathan Cheechoo. Defenseman Drew Bannister chipped in two assists.
B-Sens goaltender Chris Holt stopped 24 of 27 shots in the winning effort.
LAKE ERIE 3, MILWAUKEE 2 (SO)
Lake Erie rallied back from a 2-0 deficit and eventually took a 3-2 shootout win over host Milwaukee on Friday before 8,076 fans at the Bradley Center.
Brock Bradford brought the Monsters within 2-1 at 6:22 of the second period, and captain Brian Willsie tied it up with a power play strike 10:55 into the third frame, with Bradford picking up an assist.
Lake Erie netminder John Grahame stopped three of Milwaukee’s five tries after making 18 saves through the first 65 minutes.
Combined with Manitoba’s loss in Grand Rapids, the win pulled Lake Erie within three points of the Moose for the North Division’s fourth and final postseason spot.
TEXAS 4, ROCKFORD 3 (OT)
Rookie Travis Morin scored 2:40 into overtime to lift Texas to a 4-3 win over visiting Rockford in a back-and-forth game at the Cedar Park Center.
Raymond Sawada began the rally 4:38 into the period with his fourth goal of the season. Returning to the lineup after missing the previous 25 games to injury, Landon Wilson tied the game at the 8:40 mark and then gave the Stars a 3-2 lead at 12:04.
The lead stood until Rockford’s Matt Keith notched the equalizer at 12:41 of the third frame, sending the contest to overtime.
HOUSTON 3, SAN ANTONIO 1
Nathan Smith snapped an 11-game goal-scoring drought with a pair of tallies, and Houston went on to a 3-1 win over visiting San Antonio at the Toyota Center.
Smith, who had not scored since Feb. 5 at Milwaukee, notched a power play goal 14:41 into the contest and then extended Houston’s lead to 2-0 at even strength early in the second frame. Duncan Milroy assisted on both of Smith’s goals.
Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin earned the win with 22 saves on 23 shots in net.
ABBOTSFORD 5, WORCESTER 4
Abbotsford built a 4-1 lead after two periods but then had to hold on for a 4-1 win over visiting Worcester on Friday at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Goaltender Leland Irving, making his first appearance for the Heat since Jan. 22, secured the win with 28 saves between the pipes.
Worcester, which dropped to 0-2-0-1 against Abbotsford this season, will look to salvage the teams’ final meeting of the regular season on Saturday night.