WORCESTER 5, SPRINGFIELD 0
Worcester made the most of its only game action in a 10-day span, blitzing Springfield for a 17-3 shots advantage in the second period and scoring four times en route to a 5-0 road victory over the Falcons on Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
The Sharks earned their second consecutive shutout, extended their season-high winning streak to five games, and remained one point up on also-victorious Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot. Worcester also holds three games in hand on the Whale.
Springfield outshot Worcester 12-6 during a scoreless first period, but the middle 20 minutes would prove to be entirely different.
Second-year pro Benn Ferriero, who has spent a bulk of time with parent-club NHL, began Worcester’s onslaught on the power play at 2:51 with his first goal for the AHL Sharks since Nov. 19 at Manchester.
Dan DaSilva then made it 2-0 just 31 seconds later; Brandon Mashinter extended the lead to 3-0 only 55 seconds after that, and Andrew Desjardins (pictured) sent the Sharks into second intermission with a 4-0 lead when he added another power play strike at 18:25.
Desjardins came out of the dressing room and scored again 40 seconds into the third period, and Worcester cruised from there. DaSilva (1-2-3) and defenseman Sean Sullivan (0-2-2) joined Desjardins in posting multiple points for the Sharks.
Worcester goaltender Daren Machesney posted a 25-save shutout in his Sharks debut and just his second AHL outing of the 2010-11 season. Following Carter Hutton’s 20-save blanking of Providence on Feb. 5, the Sharks are now 2-0-0-0 with two shutouts since workhorse goaltender Alex Stalock was lost to a season-ending injury.
Coincidentally, Machesney’s only prior AHL appearance this season was for the Falcons, when he allowed three goals on six shots in the team’s home opener vs. Providence on Oct. 9.
Springfield (23-24-1-3), which was blanked for the first time all season, hosts the Bruins on Saturday before traveling to Manchester on Sunday.
Worcester is now off until continuing a five-game road swing in Rochester next Wednesday.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2, BRIDGEPORT 0
Goaltender Brad Thiessen made 22 saves for his second shutout in three appearances since returning from injury, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rolled to a 2-0 road win over Bridgeport on Friday at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Thiessen, who blanked Albany on 21 shots Monday night in his first game back, improved to a remarkable 21-4-0 in 27 appearances and collected his fifth shutout overall. He made six saves in the opening period and then eight apiece in the second and third frames.
Rookie defenseman Carl Sneep gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, and then Ben Street added an insurance goal midway through the second. Keven Veilleux, Geoff Walker, Tim Wallace, and Chris Collins each earned an assist on the night.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (39-14-0-0) extended its winning streak to three games and maintained an eight-point lead over Hershey for first place in the East Division and in the overall AHL standings.
The Sound Tigers’ misery in the calendar year 2011 continued, as Bridgeport dropped its seventh straight game and fell to 1-12-2-1 since a 3-2 win over Worcester on Dec. 31.
CONNECTICUT 3, HAMILTON 2
Devin DiDiomete snapped a 2-2 deadlock with just 1:13 left in regulation, allowing Connecticut to salvage its visit to Ontario with a 3-2 win over Hamilton on Friday at Copps Coliseum.
The Whale, who suffered a 9-2 rout at the hands of Toronto on Wednesday afternoon, will now have Saturday off before traveling to Providence on Sunday afternoon.
Known more for physical play than scoring goals, DiDiomete nonetheless potted his sixth marker of the season – and first game-winner – off assists by Tim Kennedy and Chad Kolarik. DiDiomete leads Connecticut with 206 penalty minutes in 47 outings this year.
Whale goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris earned the victory with 29 saves on 31 shots between the pipes.
PORTLAND 3, MANCHESTER 1
Portland scored once in each period and kept the pressure on Manchester atop the Atlantic Division race with a solid 3-1 road victory over the Monarchs on Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Brennan erupted for a game-high three points (1-2-3), and fellow rearguard Marc-Andre Gragnani chipped in a pair of assists. Pirates goaltender Jhonas Enroth (17-14-1) stopped 35 shots to earn the victory in net.
By moving to 13-4-0-0 in their last 17 games, Portland closed to within one point of first-place Manchester in the division standings. The teams still have three head-to-head meetings left.
Rookie Jordan Nolan scored the Monarchs’ lone goal on the power play midway through the second period. Manchester’s seven-game points streak (4-0-0-3) came to an end.
HERSHEY 4, PROVIDENCE 3
Hershey jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the game was seven minutes old but had to hold off Providence from there to emerge with a 4-3 road win over the Bruins on Friday in front of 10,530 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The red-hot Bears collected their third straight win and extended their points streak to 11 consecutive games (10-0-0-1) since suffering a 2-1 loss at Binghamton on Jan. 16.
Massachusetts native and ex-Bruin Keith Aucoin paced Hershey’s offense with three points (1-2-3), including the eventual game-winning marker shorthanded in the second period’s closing seconds.
Boyd Kane tallied a pair of goals for the Bears, Kyle Greentree rounded out the scoring with his 20th goal of the year, and Connecticut native Jared DeMichiel stopped 28 of 31 shots to pick up the victory in net in his AHL debut.
Hershey earned a split of its two-game season series with the Bruins, avenging a 2-1 loss at the Giant Center back on Dec. 18.
NORFOLK 3, SYRACUSE 0
Goaltender Mike Smith pitched a 29-save shutout for his first AHL victory in nearly five years, and Norfolk cruised to a 3-0 win over visiting Syracuse on Friday at the Scope.
On loan from the parent Tampa Bay Lightning, Smith made 11 saves in the second period sandwiched around nine-save efforts in the first and third frames. After beginning 0-2-0 for Norfolk this year, he won in the AHL for the first time since Apr. 14, 2006, as a member of the Iowa Stars.
Mattias Ritola chipped in two assists on the night, as Norfolk (26-15-8-3, 63 points) moved into a tie with idle Charlotte for third place in the East Division standings.
The Crunch, whose brief two-game winning streak came to an end, will get another crack at Norfolk on Saturday night in the teams’ last match-up before the Admirals visit Syracuse on the final weekend of the season in April.
BINGHAMTON 3, ROCHESTER 0
Binghamton goaltender Barry Brust stood tall with a 36-save shutout as the Senators opened a grueling three-game road weekend with a 3-0 triumph over Rochester on Friday at the Blue Cross Arena.
Brust, who took sole possession of the league lead with his sixth shutout of the campaign, has now collected one-third of his total wins this year via the shutout (18-12-1 in 32 appearances). The former AHL All-Star made 13 saves in the first period, 10 in the second, and 13 more in the third.
Cody Bass netted his second goal of the season for Binghamton, while Erik Condra and AHL leading scorer Corey Locke each registered their 17th markers. Locke’s tally came into an empty net to seal the victory.
Binghamton improved to 3-0-1-0 in its last four games and maintained a one-point edge on Connecticut for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. The Senators will visit surging Hershey on Saturday night before concluding the weekend at Adirondack on Sunday.
The struggling Americans were blanked for a second consecutive game and have now totaled just one goal during their current three-game losing skid, which comes right after the team entered the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak.
With their sixth straight victory and 12th in 14 games (12-1-0-1), Houston maintained a two-point lead on San Antonio for first place in the West Division race. Peoria and Milwaukee each sit three points out of the top spot.
The Aeros got regulation goals from Nate Prosser, O’Sullivan, and Colton Gillies, who converted a penalty shot at 4:54 of the third period to snap a 2-2 deadlock. But Rivermen forward Nicholas Drazenovic tied it back up at 12:16 with his second goal of the night.
Rookie Phil McRae also scored for the Rivermen and then registered his club’s lone shootout goal in the first round. Three of Peoria’s last four games have extended to the shootout, with the Rivermen dropping two of those contests.
Houston goaltender Anton Khudobin (18-9-1) made a season-high 40 saves in net through 65 minutes and then stopped four of five shootout bids, running his personal winning streak to six games.
After enjoying Saturday off, the teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
CHICAGO 5, MILWAUKEE 2
Five different Chicago skaters found the back of the net as Chicago earned a critical 5-2 road win over rival Milwaukee on Friday night at the Bradley Center.
Nigel Dawes tallied his team-leading 25th goal and added an assist, and Darren Haydar scored his 20th of the season while adding a helper. That duo was joined in the goal department by Gaelan Pettersson, Tim Miller, and defenseman Mark Matheson.
Chicago (27-23-2-4, 60 points) bounced back from Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to Grand Rapids and pulled within three points of idle Oklahoma City for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
SAN ANTONIO 2, MANITOBA 1
Former first-round draft pick Viktor Tikhonov tallied both goals for San Antonio as the Rampage edged host Manitoba by a 2-1 count on Friday in the opener of a two-game set before 8,644 fans at the MTS Centre.
The Moose initially took a 1-0 lead when Tommy Maxwell scored 13:48 into the contest, but Tikhonov lit the lamp for the first time just 13 seconds later to make it 1-1.
Drafted 28th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, Tikhonov then gave San Antonio the lead for good when he scored unassisted at 18:14 of the second period. Neither side found a goal in the third frame.
Prior to this two-goal effort, Tikhonov had not scored since recording a goal at Houston on Nov. 26.
Rampage goaltender Matt Climie (19-12-0) made the effort stand up, finishing with 25 saves on 26 shots to earn the victory in net and help San Antonio remain two points back of Houston for first place in the West Division race.
Manitoba has now lost three straight games and recorded exactly one goal in all three setbacks. The Moose, who nonetheless maintain a one-point edge on Hamilton for first place in the North Division, get another crack at San Antonio on Saturday night in Winnipeg.
TEXAS 6, ROCKFORD 5 (OT)
Greg Rallo notched his team-leading 16th goal of the season with only four seconds left in overtime, capping off a wild back-and-forth game and sending Texas to a 6-5 win over visiting Rockford on Friday in front of 5,545 fans at the Cedar Park Center.
The Stars fell behind 1-0, scored four straight goals to take a 4-1 lead, allowed four in a row to fall behind 5-4, tied it on a third-period strike by defenseman Dan Spang, and then won it on Rallo’s overtime power play marker.
Rallo was assisted on the play by Spang and forward Colton Sceviour (0-2-2).
Cody Chupp (1-1-2), Luke Gazdic (1-1-2), Brad Lukowich (1-1-2), and Michael Neal joined Spang in tallying regulation goals for the Stars, and defenseman Maxime Fortunus chipped in three assists on the night.
Texas goaltender Brent Krahn emerged with the victory after making 29 saves on 34 shots. The win propelled the Stars (28-17-3-3, 62 points) within one point of idle Oklahoma City for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
ABBOTSFORD 4, TORONTO 1
Ryan Stone completed a hat trick in the third period, and Abbotsford celebrated its return home with a key 4-1 win over division-rival Toronto at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
With their third consecutive victory, the Heat (26-22-2-5, 59 points) moved one point up on Lake Erie and two ahead of Toronto for the North Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff berth.
Stone provide insurance on the power play at 3:15 of the third period and then capped off his hat trick with an empty-net marker with 1:09 left to play.
The Marlies managed only one goal just two days after connecting nine times in a 9-2 win over Connecticut. Toronto will battle the Heat again on Saturday night before flying to Winnipeg for a pair of games against the Moose next week.