MANCHESTER 4, WORCESTER 1
Rookie goaltender Martin Jones made a season-high 45 saves on 46 shots to earn his fifth straight victory as Atlantic Division-leading Manchester took a 4-1 decision from visiting Worcester on Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Jones, who is now 7-1-0 for the season, improved his league-leading goals-against average to 1.47 and lowered his save percentage to .952, tied with Peoria’s Jake Allen for first place in the AHL.
The 20-year-old, who started against Worcester for the first time this year, stopped all 36 shots he faced over the final two periods, including 22 in the third frame alone.
Manchester defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov chipped in a pair of helpers on the night, as the Monarchs improved to 10-3-0-0 in their last 13 contests and 3-2-0-0 vs. Worcester this season.
Rookie defenseman Matt Irwin initially gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with a power play goal 3:45 into the contest, but Worcester watched its four-game points streak (3-0-0-1) come to an end.
The Sharks suffered their first regulation loss since a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Monarchs on Nov. 28 in Worcester.
HOUSTON 5, SAN ANTONIO 3
Rookie forward Casey Wellman recorded a natural hat trick before the game was 16 minutes old and later added a fourth goal to lead Houston past visiting San Antonio, 5-3, on Friday at the Toyota Center.
Wellman, who has also appeared in 12 games for the parent Minnesota Wild this season, entered the contest with three goals in 13 AHL outings on the year but more than doubled that total in one night’s worth of work.
Houston won for the fifth time in its last six games (5-1-0-0) but earned its first regulation victory since a 4-2 triumph over Texas on Nov. 21.
HERSHEY 2, CHARLOTTE 1 (SO)
Hershey converted on two of its three shootout tries and came away with a 2-1 road win over Charlotte in the opener of a two-game set on Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Andrew Gordon and defenseman Lawrence Nycholat notched shootout goals for the Bears, and goaltender Braden Holtby (7-1-1) denied all four of Charlotte’s tries after stopping 28 of 29 shots through the first 65 minutes.
Both regulation goals occurred in the first period. Gordon put Hershey on top 1-0 at 1:05 with his league-leading (tied) 16th tally of the season, but Checkers forward Jerome Samson answered with his 15th of the year at 14:37.
Charlotte goaltender Justin Pogge took the shootout loss despite making 48 saves on 49 shots through regulation and overtime.
The Bears (16-9-0-1) have now won a season-high four consecutive games and moved into sole possession of third place in the East Division, one point up on the Checkers.
TEXAS 4, GRAND RAPIDS 3
Texas constructed a 4-0 lead by early in the second period and then had to hold on for a 4-3 road win over Grand Rapids on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
Rookie Sean Backman, Mathieu Tousignant, and Travis Morin tallied first-period goals for the Stars, and Greg Rallo added a power play strike at 4:09 of the second frame. Morin’s marker was his team-leading 10th of the season.
It remained a 4-2 game through most of the third period until Grand Rapids forward Ilari Filppula tallied a power play goal at 19:12 with the Griffins on a 6-on-4 advantage after pulling goaltender Joey MacDonald for an extra attacker.
Grand Rapids could not get the equalizer, though, and fell to 3-7-1-4 on home ice this season.
Defenseman Brad Lukowich posted two assists and goaltender Tyler Beskorowany made 33 saves for his first career AHL victory for the Stars, who will battle Grand Rapids again on Sunday after a Saturday visit to Milwaukee.
BINGHAMTON 5, ALBANY 0
Barry Brust made 25 saves for his third shutout of the season as Binghamton ended a four-game losing skid with a 5-0 victory over Albany at the Broome County Arena on Friday.
Brust, who improved his season record to 9-9-1, turned aside five shots in the first period, 11 in the second, and nine in the third.
Albany fell to 3-6-0-0 in its last nine games.
PORTLAND 5, PROVIDENCE 1
Portland kicked off a busy road weekend on a good note Friday with a 5-1 win over Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Pirates, who won for just the second time in their last eight tries (2-5-0-1), will visit Adirondack and Atlantic Division-leading Manchester on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Rookie Maxime Legault tallied his first career two-goal game for the Pirates, who also received markers from Drew Schiestel and Matt Ellis in the winning effort. Portland surrendered the game’s first goal but then scored five unanswered en route to the victory.
The Pirates earned their second 5-1 victory in as many trips to Providence this season, having also won by that score on Nov. 28.
Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman notched the lone goal for the Bruins, who fell to 1-5-0-0 in their last six contests.
HAMILTON 3, ROCHESTER 2 (OT)
Red-hot Max Pacioretty scored at 2:46 of overtime to lift Hamilton past host Rochester by a 3-2 final on Friday at the Blue Cross Arena.
Pacioretty, whose 16th goal of the season moved him back into a tie for the league lead with Hershey’s Andrew Gordon, now shows 12 goals in his last 10 contests (12-2-14). He was assisted on the game-winner by defenseman Alex Henry and forward David Desharnais.
Jeff LoVecchio, acquired from the Boston organization on Thursday, scored in his Rochester debut at the 12:03 mark. Michael Duco followed on the power play at 12:52, and neither side had a goal in the third frame.
Bulldogs goaltender Robert Mayer secured the win with 29 saves between the pipes, as Hamilton ended a season-high three-game regulation losing skid.
NORFOLK 4, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Alex Berry tallied a goal and assisted on two others as Norfolk doubled up visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-2, in the front end of a home-and-home set on Friday at the Scope.
A second-year pro, Berry now shows 14 points (8-6-14) in 25 games this season after totaling seven points (3-4-7) in 55 AHL games for Toronto as a rookie in 2009-10.
Stefano Giliati also registered a goal for the Admirals (16-6-4-1), who extended their points streak to five games (4-0-1-0) and moved within five points of Wilkes-Barre for first place in the East Division.
The Penguins, whose six-game winning streak came to an end, got a pair of power play goals from Nick Johnson on the night.
The teams will head north for a rematch in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
OKLAHOMA CITY 4, MANITOBA 2
Hours after being named one of the playing captains for the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, Oklahoma City forward Alexandre Giroux went out and scored two goals to help the Barons double up Manitoba by a 4-2 count on Friday at the Cox Convention Center.
The AHL’s two-time defending goal-scoring champion, Giroux has registered a goal in three straight games (4-2-6) after going his previous 14 outings without scoring. He is now up to 599 regular-season points (318-281-599) in 663 AHL games.
Oklahoma City goaltender Martin Gerber (11-4-1) made 25 saves in the win, which was just the Barons’ second in their last six games (2-2-0-2).
Manitoba continues a four-game road trip on Saturday in San Antonio.
ADIRONDACK 5, SYRACUSE 2
Rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson tallied a goal and added four assists for a five-point night as Adirondack collected a much-needed 5-2 road victory over Syracuse on Friday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
The Phantoms finally snapped their losing skid at 10 games (0-9-1-0) and won for just the second time since a 3-2 triumph over the Crunch on Oct. 15 (2-18-2-0).
Gustafsson, a 22-year-old out of Northern Michigan University, moved into a tie for the AHL lead in scoring among defensemen with 20 points (3-17-20) in 26 games this season.
Ryan and Hamel each finished with a goal and two assists on the night, and Phantoms goaltender Michael Leighton made 29 saves to earn his first win and three tries on a conditioning stint from parent-club Philadelphia.
MILWAUKEE 4, ROCKFORD 3 (SO)
Rookie defenseman Roman Josi’s seventh-round shootout conversion lifted Milwaukee to a come-from-behind 4-3 road win over Rockford on Friday at the MetroCentre.
Milwaukee goaltender Chet Pickard stopped Rockford’s other five tries after making 29 saves through the first 65 minutes and earned his first AHL victory of the season (1-3-1).
Klasen, Jonathon Blum, and Jamie Lundmark registered goals in regulation for the Admirals, who overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2. Lundmark’s marker at 18:39 of the third period ultimately forced overtime.
ABBOTSFORD 4, CHICAGO 3 (OT)
Defenseman Keith Seabrook scored on the power play at 2:09 of overtime to lift Abbotsford over visiting Chicago by a 4-3 final on Friday in the opener of a two-game set at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Logan McMillan, Matt Pelech, and Nemisz tallied regulation goals as the Heat built a 3-1 lead after two periods of play. But Wolves forward Nigel Dawes scored twice in the third period to force the extra session.
Abbotsford goaltender Leland Irving (14-7-1) only had to make 13 saves in the winning effort, as his club held a 36-16 advantage in shots for the night.
Spencer Machacek also lit the lamp for the Wolves (13-14-2-0), who suffered their first overtime loss since dropping a 4-3 decision at Rockford on Oct. 23.