NORFOLK 4, CHARLOTTE 3 (SO)
Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored twice in a 12-second span during a wild third period and then added another goal in the shootout as Norfolk got back on track with a 4-3 win over visiting Charlotte on Friday at the Scope.
The Admirals collected their first home-ice win in six tries against Charlotte this season (1-5-0-0) and halted a three-game winless skid overall (0-2-0-1).
Norfolk remains two points back of Binghamton for fourth place in the East Division race but six points up on Springfield and Worcester for the Eastern Conference’s crossover playoff berth.
This game was scoreless until early in the third period, when Norfolk took advantage of a lengthy power play to take a 3-0 lead. Paul Szczechura began the onslaught with a 5-on-3 goal 1:50 into the frame, and Pouliot scored another 5-on-3 tally at 2:33.
Just 12 seconds later, Pouliot connected again with the teams at 5-on-4 to make it 3-0. Szczechura assisted on both goals by Pouliot to finish with three points on the night.
But the Checkers didn’t pack it in, instead rallying for three goals of their own to force overtime. Defenseman Bryan Rodney (7:48) and forward Nicolas Blanchard (8:18) scored just 30 seconds apart, and Drayson Bowman tied it with a power play strike at 17:38, extending his goal-scoring streak to four games (4-2-6).
After a scoreless overtime, Checkers rookie Zac Dalpe converted in the first shootout round but was answered by Pouliot in round two. The goaltenders then traded a pair of saves, and Admirals forward Blair Jones notched the winning goal in the fifth round.
Charlotte still extended its points streak to five games (3-0-0-2) and maintained a four-point lead on Binghamton for third place in the East.
GRAND RAPIDS 5, LAKE ERIE 3
Grand Rapids struck for three goals in the third period to claim a 5-3 win over visiting Lake Erie on Friday in front of 8,398 fans at Van Andel Arena.
The teams entered the third period deadlocked at 2-2, but forwards Jamie Johnson (2:17) and Francis Pare (9:29) scored to give the Griffins a 4-2 advantage. After Greg Mauldin pulled the Monsters within 4-3 at the 15:49 mark, Chris Minard sealed Grand Rapids’ win with a late empty-netter.
Grand Rapids rookie goaltender Jordan Pearce (10-5-5) earned the victory with 34 saves in net, helping the Griffins extend their points streak to five games (3-0-0-2).
MANCHESTER 4, BRIDGEPORT 3
Justin Azevedo tallied a pair of goals – including the eventual game-winner – and added an assist as Manchester edged visiting Bridgeport by a 4-3 count on Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Azevedo netted his 14th and 15th goals of the season, and his goal at 1:37 of the third period gave Manchester a 4-2 edge at the time and stood up to be decisive. It marked Azevedo’s first multiple-goal game of the entire season.
First-year goaltender Martin Jones stopped 25 of 28 shots in net and improved to 22-7-1 in 33 appearances for the season.
With the victory, the Monarchs (36-18-2-5, 79 points) maintained a four-point edge on Portland atop the Atlantic Division, though the Pirates still hold four games in hand.
PORTLAND 3, WORCESTER 2 (SO)
Portland coughed up a 2-0 lead in regulation but ultimately scored on all three of its shootout tries to come away with a 3-2 road shootout win over Worcester on Friday at the DCU Center.
Paul Byron, rookie Corey Tropp, and Mark Parrish all beat Sharks netminder Tyson Sexsmith in the shootout as the Pirates halted a three-game winless skid (0-1-1-1) and remained four points back of first-place Manchester in the Atlantic Division.
Pirates goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who made a season-high 44 saves through the first 65 minutes, yielded a third-round shootout goal to Michael Swift but stuffed the Sharks’ other three tries to improve to 19-16-2 in 39 appearances.
Rookie Maxime Legault staked Portland to a 1-0 first-period lead, and Derek Whitmore made it 2-0 early in the second period with his 21st goal of the season. But T.J. Trevelyan cut the Sharks’ deficit in half midway through the second frame, and Benn Ferriero’s power play goal with 55 seconds left in regulation tied it up.
The Sharks fell to 1-3-1-1 in their last six contests but are still just two points back of Connecticut for a postseason spot and hold two games in hand on the Whale.
BINGHAMTON 7, SYRACUSE 4
Despite playing without AHL leading scorer Corey Locke (18-54-72), the team’s second leading scorer in Erik Condra (17-29-46), and AHL leading rookie goal-scorer Bobby Butler (22-11-33), red-hot Binghamton put seven goals on the board en route to a 7-4 road win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
The Senators extended their season-high winning streak to eight games, just one shy of the club’s franchise-record nine-game run established from Jan. 7-26, 2005, which was also the last season in which Binghamton reached postseason play.
B-Sens captain Ryan Keller led the way offensively in this one by notching his first hat trick of the season, including a pair of power play goals in a 1:59 span early in the third period as Binghamton struck five times in the third frame to erase a 4-2 deficit.
Keller now shows six goals and 10 points in Binghamton’s last five games.
SPRINGFIELD 5, ALBANY 2
Springfield continued its recent surge toward a playoff position with a 5-2 win over visiting Albany at the MassMutual Center on Friday night.
The Falcons, who have not reached the Calder Cup Playoffs since 2003, improved to 5-1-0-0 in its last six games and pulled to within two points of idle Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed postseason bid.
Tom Sestito and defenseman John Moore netted first-period goals for the Falcons, who then took control of the game by way of a three-goal second frame. Maksim Mayorov scored at 10:10, and then rookie Tomas Kubalik (18:02) and Tomas Kana (18:17) tallied goals just 15 seconds apart, with Kana scoring for the first time this season.
HAMILTON 4, ADIRONDACK 1
New Hamilton forward Nigel Dawes made an immediate impact in his Bulldogs debut, tallying his 28th goal of the season as the ‘Dogs rolled to a 4-1 win over Adirondack on Friday before 14,809 fans at the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.
Dawes, acquired by the Habs on Thursday in a deal which sent Ben Maxwell to the Atlanta organization, entered the weekend ranked third in the AHL with 27 goals in 47 games for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this year.
Danny Syvret brought the Phantoms even early in the second period, but J.T. Wyman put Hamilton on top to stay with his 13th goal of the season at the 9:30 mark. Bulldogs forward Aaron Palushaj then added a pair of third-period power play goals, including one into an empty net, to account for the final margin.
The Bulldogs extended their points streak to four games (3-0-0-1) and moved into a three-way tie for first place in the North Division along with Manitoba and Lake Erie, two points ahead of fourth-place Toronto.
ROCHESTER 5, MANITOBA 3
Mark Cullen racked up two goals and two assists to lead host Rochester to a 5-3 win over North Division-leading Manitoba on Friday before 5,880 fans at the Blue Cross Arena.
Cullen, who was a member of the Moose’s 2009 Western Conference championship team, notched his first two goals of the season for the Americans and helped out on markers by defenseman Clay Wilson and Mike Kostka.
Kostka finished with three points (1-2-3) on the night, Wilson had a goal and an assist, and fellow rearguard Colby Robak rounded out the Amerks’ offense.
Rochester goaltender Tyler Plante (11-10-2) earned the win with 27 saves on 30 shots between the pipes, helping the Americans improve to 6-1-0-1 in their last eight games and back to the .500 mark overall at 27-27-3-3 (60 points).
CHICAGO 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Rookie Tim Miller’s unassisted shorthanded goal at 3:23 of the third period stood up to be the game-winner as Chicago eked out a key 2-1 road win over first-place Milwaukee on Friday before 12,108 fans at the Bradley Center.
Miller, who now shows seven points (4-3-7) in 14 games for the Wolves this season, notched Chicago’s seventh shorthanded tally of the campaign. It gave the Wolves a 2-0 lead at the time, but Mark Van Guilder put Milwaukee on the board with 1:43 left in regulation.
Chicago, which moved to 5-1-0-0 in its last six outings, is now just one point back of Oklahoma City for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
The Admirals’ lead atop the West Division was trimmed to two points over Houston, which earned a 4-3 overtime win over Texas.
OKLAHOMA CITY 3, SAN ANTONIO 2
Oklahoma City took a 3-1 lead into the third period and held on for a 3-2 victory over visiting San Antonio at the Cox Convention Center on Friday night.
The Barons bounced back nicely from a 6-1 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday, improved to 4-1-0-0 in their last five games, and moved one point up on the Rampage and Chicago for the Western Conference’s crossover playoff spot.
Giroux recorded his 29th of the season – second-most in the AHL – while Stortini notched his first goal in seven games since being assigned to Oklahoma City by parent-club Edmonton. Stortini had not scored in 32 games with the Oilers this season.
Barons goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers earned the victory with 22 saves on 24 shots in net.
ROCKFORD 4, PEORIA 2
Jeff Taffe scored a pair of goals and added an assist as Rockford doubled up host Peoria by a 4-2 count on Friday at Carver Arena.
Taffe extended his goal-scoring streak to three games (4-1-5) and his points streak to 13 contests (9-11-20) for the IceHogs, who snapped a four-game losing skid with their first victory since taking a 2-1 win over the Rivermen on Feb. 16.
Taffe’s 13-game scoring streak matches an AHL season high, previously achieved by Hamilton’s David Desharnais (Oct. 15 to Nov. 13), Portland’s Mark Mancari (Jan. 5-28), Hershey’s Keith Aucoin (Jan. 15 to Feb. 11), and Milwaukee’s Roman Josi (Jan. 20 to Feb. 20).
Rockford goaltender Alec Richards earned the victory with 22 saves on 24 shots in net.
HOUSTON 4, TEXAS 3 (OT)
Rookie Casey Wellman scored on the power play just 29 seconds into overtime to lift Houston past visiting Texas by a 4-3 final on Friday before 7,582 fans at the Toyota Center.
Jon DiSalvatore scored twice in regulation for the Aeros, and rookie defenseman Nate Prosser also found the back of the net. Wellman assisted on DiSalvatore’s game-tying tally at 12:33 of the third period.
The win pulled Houston (34-22-1-4, 73 points) within two points of first-place Milwaukee in the West Division race, though the Admirals still hold three games in hand.
PROVIDENCE 4, ABBOTSFORD 0
Rookie Maxime Sauve netted a pair of goals and rookie Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves for his first career AHL shutout as Providence blanked host Abbotsford by a 4-0 count on Friday at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Sauve provided all the offense Hutchinson would need when he scored unassisted 7:35 into the contest, and the 21-year-old added another goal midway through the second period.
Hutchinson made 23 of his 30 saves over the final 40 minutes of play as Providence earned its first shutout since Matt Dalton posted a 45-save whitewash of Worcester on Jan. 16.
The Heat are now winless in three straight games (0-2-1-0) and will get another shot at the Bruins on Saturday night.