SYRACUSE 5, ADIRONDACK 0
Goaltender Jean-Philippe Levasseur continued his trend of winning the via the shutout, stopping all 31 shots he faced as Syracuse finally broke through against Adirondack with a 5-0 road win over the Phantoms on Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Crunch had entered the night with just two wins in their last 12 outings (2-8-1-1) overall and sporting an 0-5-0-0 season mark against the Phantoms, who are 10-29-2-3 against the rest of the AHL.
But ex-Phantom Patrick Maroon set the tone with a power play strike late in the opening period to provide all the offense Syracuse would need and then added a second man-advantage goal in the second frame. It marked Maroon’s first multiple-goal game since scoring twice on Jan. 27, 2010, as a member of the Phantoms.
2011 AHL All-Star rookie Kyle Palmieri racked up a game-high three points (1-2-3) for the Crunch, and Matt Beleskey (1-1-2) and defenseman Mark Mitera rounded out the offense. Defenseman Nate Guenin (0-3-3) and forward Josh Green (0-2-2) each chipped in multiple assists in the victory.
Levasseur, who moved to 7-14-3 on the season, has now posted shutouts in four of his seven victories. The 24-year-old made 25 of his 31 saves over the final two periods of play.
Adirondack was blanked just one game after recording a 6-4 win over the Crunch in Syracuse on Jan. 29 in both clubs’ final contest before the All-Star break.
HERSHEY 5, ALBANY 3
Brian Willsie tallied a pair of goals – including the game-winner early in the third period – as Hershey outlasted Albany by a 5-3 count on Friday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
The Bears (30-14-1-2) extended their season-high winning streak to seven games and moved within nine points of first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the East Division with a pair of games in hand.
Willsie connected for his 20th and 21st goals of the season, and his power play marker at 4:38 of the third frame broke a 3-3 deadlock. Boyd Kane added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
Francois Bouchard and 2011 AHL All-Star Andrew Gordon also registered goals for the Bears, while Keith Aucoin, Steve Pinizzotto, and Kyle Greentree each chipped in with a pair of assists. Hershey goaltender Todd Ford made 21 saves and improved to 2-0-0 in the AHL this season.
HAMILTON 2, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Ryan White snapped a 1-1 deadlock with just 5:25 left in regulation, and Hamilton held on to post a come-from-behind 2-1 road win over Grand Rapids on Friday in front of 6,580 fans at Van Andel Arena.
The victory allowed Hamilton (28-15-1-4, 61 points) to maintain a one-point edge on Manitoba for first place in the North Division race.
J.T. Wyman picked up the lone assist on White’s third goal of the season and first since Nov. 16 vs. Toronto. This one helped the Bulldogs improve to 2-2-0-0 against Grand Rapids in 2010-11.
Hamilton goaltender Curtis Sanford picked up his 19th win in net (19-9-1) with 24 saves on 25 shots, while Griffins rookie Jordan Pearce (33 saves) took the loss despite surrendering exactly two goals for a fourth consecutive outing.
CONNECTICUT 3, BRIDGEPORT 2
Connecticut built a 3-1 lead by the game’s midway point and held on for a 3-2 victory over reeling Bridgeport on Friday before 6,023 fans at the XL Center in Hartford.
2011 AHL All-Star Jeremy Williams netted his team-leading 23rd goal of the season for the Whale; rookie defenseman Jyri Niemi scored his first professional goal; and Kris Newbury netted the eventual game-winner at 11:20 of the second period.
Newbury’s goal made it a 3-1 contest, which remained the score until defenseman Wes O’Neill cut the Sound Tigers’ deficit to 3-2 at 13:04 of the third frame. But Bridgeport could not get the equalizer and saw its losing skid reach five games. Each of the club’s last three losses has been by a 3-2 final.
The Sound Tigers, who were 18-14-1-2 following a 3-2 win over Worcester on Dec. 31, are 1-10-2-1 since the calendar turned to 2011.
Goaltender Chad Johnson stopped 28 shots in net for the Whale, who won for just the third time in their last nine games (3-6-0-0) and improved to 5-1-0-1 vs. Bridgeport this season.
MANITOBA 3, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Veteran defenseman Sami Salo returned to game action with a bang, tallying two goals and leading Manitoba past the AHL’s best team with a 3-2 road win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday before 6,215 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The 36-year-old Salo, on a conditioning loan from parent-club Vancouver and appearing in his first-ever AHL contest, scored 6:18 into the opening period before registering the eventual game-winning marker on the power play midway through the second.
Manitoba rookie goaltender Eddie Lack (16-10-3) stopped 40 of 42 shots to earn the victory and reached the 40-save plateau for the first time this season.
Nick Johnson and Zach Sill potted goals for the Penguins (36-13-0-0). Coupled with a 2-1 loss at Binghamton on Jan. 29, Wilkes-Barre has now dropped back-to-back contests for the first time since falling in both ends of a home-and-home set with Norfolk on Dec. 10 and 11.
PROVIDENCE 2, SPRINGFIELD 1
Tough guy Brian McGrattan notched just his second goal of the season late in the second period, and it stood up to be the game-winner as Providence edged visiting Springfield by a 2-1 count before 7,769 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
McGrattan, who entered the night with one goal and 88 penalty minutes in 28 games this season, scored for the first time since Dec. 17 vs. Charlotte and was assisted by defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk.
The Bruins’ other goal on the night was scored by Lane MacDermid, who came in boasting 103 penalty minutes but just three markers for the campaign. McGrattan and rookie defenseman Colby Cohen earned helpers on MacDermid’s first-period strike.
Rookie forward Tomas Kubalik registered a second-period power play goal for the Falcons’ lone score of the night.
Goaltender Matt Dalton stopped the other 32 shots sent his way for the Bruins, who improved to 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games and remain right in the thick of the Atlantic Division postseason race.
NORFOLK 4, BINGHAMTON 3 (OT)
Binghamton rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to force overtime, but Marc-Andre Bergeron capped off a three-point night with the winning tally 3:03 into the extra session as Norfolk escaped with a 4-3 win on Friday at the Scope.
Bergeron, who hadn’t produced a goal in any of his first 12 games with the Admirals this season, finished with two goals and an assist on this night and helped Norfolk snap a six-game winless skid (0-4-1-1).
It marked Norfolk’s first victory since earning a 3-2 shootout decision over the Senators in Binghamton on Jan. 21.
Senators forward Bobby Butler tallied his AHL rookie-leading 22nd goal of the season midway through the game, but Binghamton faced a 3-1 deficit in the third period before Patrick Wiercioch (7:59) and Kaspars Daugavins (18:55) connected to tie it up.
Corey Locke extended his AHL-leading point total to 62 with a pair of assists for the B-Sens, who will battle the Admirals again on Saturday night.
SAN ANTONIO 4, LAKE ERIE 3
San Antonio struck for a pair of goals just 53 seconds apart in the latter stages of the third period and stunned host Lake Erie with a 4-3 victory on Friday before 9,012 fans at Quicken Loans Arena.
Trailing 3-2, the Rampage got an even-strength goal from Bracken Kearns on the power play (12:14) before Alexandre Picard potted the eventual game-winner on the power play (13:07). 2011 AHL All-Star Mathieu Beaudoin earned an assist on both markers.
The Rampage won their third straight game and extended their points streak to six contests (5-0-1-0), which comes directly after a five-game regulation losing skid from Jan. 9-17.
The Sharks extended their winning streak to three games, their longest run since also winning three in a row from Nov. 21-26. Worcester wraps up a six-game homestand on Saturday when arch-rival Providence comes to town.
Viatcheslav Voynov tallied his 12th goal of the season for the Monarchs, tops among AHL defensemen. Dwight King and John Zeiler also scored in the loss, which halted Manchester’s winning streak at three games.
MILWAUKEE 4, ROCKFORD 2
Red-hot rookie forward Blake Geoffrion tallied a goal and added three assists, figuring into all four goals as Milwaukee doubled up visiting Rockford in front of 8,626 fans at the Bradley Center on Friday.
The reigning Reebok/AHL player of the week, Geoffrion has now recorded three or more points in three of his last five contests. Geoffrion, the 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player, shows five goals and 13 points during his recent five-game offensive explosion.
2011 AHL All-Star goaltender Mark Dekanich made 26 saves in net as Milwaukee collected its third straight victory, including two wins in a row over Rockford.
OKLAHOMA CITY 2, PEORIA 1 (SO)
Goaltenders Jake Allen of Peoria and Martin Gerber from Oklahoma City locked horns in an epic shootout battle, but Chris Vandevelde finally beat Allen in the 10th round to send the Barons to as 2-1 win over the Rivermen on Friday at the Cox Convention Center.
Vandevelde recorded the lone shootout goal for either side and allowed the Barons a split of their two-game home set with the Rivermen. Oklahoma City is 9-3-0-1 in its last 13 outings overall.
T.J. Hensick put Peoria on top with a power play goal midway through the opening period, the three-time AHL All-Star’s third goal against Oklahoma City in the past two days.
But Barons forward Alexandre Giroux netted his 26th goal of the season – which ranks second in the AHL – 2:21 into the second frame, also on the power play, to make it 1-1. Neither side scored the rest of the way.
Oklahoma City goaltender Martin Gerber made 28 saves through the first 65 minutes before stopping 10 of 10 in the shootout, including bids by Hensick, Graham Mink, Nathan Oystrick, and rookie Phil McRae.
Peoria will continue a four-game road trip on Saturday night with its first visit of the season to division-rival Chicago.
HOUSTON 4, TEXAS 1
Red-hot Houston took control with a three-goal third period and earned a 4-1 win over visiting Texas on Friday at the Toyota Center.
Patrick O’Sullivan scored twice and defenseman Maxim Noreau (1-1-2) and Jarod Palmer once apiece for the Aeros, who claimed their third straight win and moved to 11-2-0-1 since the calendar turned to 2011.
At 29-19-1-3 (62 points overall), Houston is now part of a four-way tie for first place in the West Division along with Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Peoria.
Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin (16-9-1) made 31 saves on 32 shots in net to run his personal winning streak to four games.
Houston is now 7-1-0-0 against Texas this season, including a perfect 5-0-0-0 mark on home ice.
Forward Luke Gazdic notched a third-period power play goal for the Stars, who remain just one point back of Oklahoma City for a potential playoff spot in the tight West Division.
ABBOTSFORD 4, CHICAGO 3 (SO)
Matt Keith and Greg Nemisz buried shootout goals as Abbotsford eked out a 4-3 road win over Chicago on Friday at Allstate Arena in the continuation of a 10-game road trip.
Darren Haydar gave the Wolves a 2-1 lead 9:13 into the stanza with his 17th goal of the season, only to watch Heat forward Stefan Meyer tie it back up just 57 seconds later. Meyer then put the Heat on top 3-2 at the 17:12 mark, but Haydar answered back after 31 seconds to make it 3-3.
The teams then combined for five minor penalties in the five-minute overtime, but it remained a 3-3 deadlock into the shootout.
Wolves forward Nigel Dawes scored the first goal for either side in the third round, however Keith (fourth round) and Nemisz (fifth) rallied to give Abbotsford the victory.
The Heat have now extended to a shootout in three straight outings, seven of their last 12 games, and a league-high 15 times overall (10-5).
Abbotsford goaltender Leland Irving earned his league-leading 20th win of the season (20-15-2) after making 30 saves through the first 33 minutes and stopping four of five in the shootout.