BINGHAMTON 6, CHARLOTTE 2
Despite playing with only 10 forwards due to a rash of NHL call-ups, Binghamton poured 42 shots on goal and stayed red hot with a 6-2 win over visiting Charlotte on Friday night.
Jim O’Brien netted his first career hat trick for the Senators, who collected their season-high fifth straight victory and closed to within two points of Charlotte for second place in the East Division.
The B-Sens played without forwards Erik Condra, Bobby Butler, Colin Greening, and Zack Smith, as well as top-scoring defenseman Andre Benoit, all of whom have been recalled as parent-club Ottawa looks to fill the holes created by its recent dealings at the NHL level.
Given the opportunity, O’Brien stepped right in by scoring once in the opening period and twice more in the second frame for his 14th, 15th, and 16th tallies of the campaign, which already doubles the eight goals he scored as a rookie for the B-Sens last season.
O’Brien, drafted 29th overall by Ottawa in 2007, has also made his NHL debut for the Senators this season by appearing in eight games but shows 16-22-38 in 50 AHL contests in Binghamton.
AHL leading scorer Corey Locke and team captain Ryan Keller recorded a goal and an assist apiece for Binghamton, and defenseman Eric Gryba netted his first goal of the year to round out the B-Sens’ offense.
Binghamton, which improved to 13-4-1-1 in its last 19 games, pulled six points up on Worcester for the crossover playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
HAMILTON 4, TORONTO 3
Ben Maxwell’s power play goal at 11:42 of the third period lifted Hamilton to a much-needed 4-3 road win over Toronto on Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
Maxwell, whose 37 points (10-27-37) make him the team’s leading scorer in the absence of the called-up David Desharnais, netted his 10th goal of the season and added an assist for a two-point night.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 2-0 lead by the game’s midpoint on goals by Andreas Engqvist and Aaron Palushaj but then fell behind 3-2 after surrendering three straight goals to the Marlies. Hunter Bishop tied it back up 8:32 into the third frame, setting the stage for Maxwell’s game-winner.
Defenseman Mathieu Carle chipped in two assists for the Bulldogs, who snapped a season-high five-game losing skid and earned their first victory since taking a 2-1 decision at Grand Rapids on Feb. 4. Goaltender Curtis Sanford made 19 saves to pick up his 20th win in net (20-13-1).
Ryan Hamilton (1-1-2), John Mitchell, and defenseman Danny Richmond tallied goals for the Marlies, who were playing the opener of an eight-game homestand. Toronto hosts Grand Rapids on Saturday afternoon.
ALBANY 5, WORCESTER 4
Albany struck for four unanswered goals over the final 10 minutes of regulation to stun Worcester with a 5-4 home-ice win on Friday before 5,541 fans at the Times Union Center.
The Devils trailed 4-1 at the 8:27 mark of the third period after Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo notched his second goal of the night and team-leading 17th of the season.
Then, after Worcester was assessed a bench minor penalty at 19:43, the Devils promptly converted for the game-tying goal when ex-Shark Steve Zalewski burned his old team at the 19:55 mark. Chad Wiseman helped out on both the game-tying and winning goals, part of a three-assist night for the veteran forward.
Goaltender Dave Caruso was the beneficiary of Albany’s rally, as the Devils netminder finished with 26 saves to pick up the win in net.
Jamie McGinn and 2011 AHL All-Star defenseman Justin Braun each had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have now dropped two straight games on the heels of a season-high five-game winning streak.
TEXAS 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2 (SO)
Francis Wathier’s second-round conversion stood up as the only shootout goal for either side as Texas rallied for a 3-2 road win over Grand Rapids on Friday before 8,509 fans at Van Andel Arena.
The Stars snapped a two-game losing skid and collected their first victory on their eight-game road trip, which continues on Saturday night in Chicago.
Defenseman Dan Spang put Texas on the board with a power play goal late in the first, and it remained a 2-1 Grand Rapids lead until Stars forward Brandon Segal tied it up just 1:41 into the third period.
Texas goaltender Richard Bachman earned his 20th victory of the season (20-12-3), making 35 saves through the first 65 minutes before denying all five of the Griffins’ shootout attempts.
PROVIDENCE 4, PORTLAND 3 (SO)
Top prospects Zach Hamill and Jamie Arniel netted shootout goals as Providence snapped a seven-game losing skid with a 4-3 triumph over Portland on Friday before 8,321 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Hamill and Arniel beat Pirates goaltender Jhonas Enroth in the opening two rounds of the shootout, and Bruins netminder Michal Hutchinson – making his first AHL appearance since Dec. 28 at Portland – stopped 47 of 50 shots through the first 65 minutes and denied all four of the Pirates’ shootout bids.
Hutchinson improved to 8-7-0 in 19 appearances for Providence on the season.
The Pirates’ four-game winning streak came to an end, but they nonetheless remained one point back of Manchester for first place in the Atlantic Division race.
SAN ANTONIO 4, SYRACUSE 2
San Antonio raced out to a 3-0 lead by the game’s midpoint and doubled up host Syracuse by a 4-2 count on Friday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Brett MacLean tallied a hat trick to pace the Rampage, netting his 20th, 21st, and 22nd goals of the season. The two-time AHL All-Star nabbed the eventual game-winning goal in the second period and completed his three-goal effort with a penalty-shot conversion in the third frame.
The Rampage (33-20-2-0, 68 points) bounced back nicely from a 5-0 loss at Manitoba last Saturday and closed to within one point of first-place Milwaukee and Houston in the West Division race.
SPRINGFIELD 4, MANCHESTER 3 (OT)
Rookie David Savard lit the lamp at 3:13 of overtime, capping off his first two-goal game as a professional to lift Springfield to a 4-3 win over visiting Manchester on Friday at the MassMutual Center.
Savard, who netted a power play goal in the first period, now shows seven goals and 15 assists in 47 games for the Falcons this season after being made a fourth-round draft pick by parent-club Columbus in 2009.
Former first-round draft pick Nikita Filatov notched a goal and an assist for Springfield, which also received goals from Maksim Mayorov and Dane Byers. Captain Ben Guite and defenseman Jonathan Sigalet each chipped in two assists on the night.
Rookie goaltender Gustaf Wesslau (11-11-1) made 21 saves in net as the Falcons earned their second straight win and remained five points back of Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
Bud Holloway, Oscar Moller, and rookie Brandon Kozun each recorded a goal and an assist for the Monarchs, while Dwight King also scored. Manchester maintained a one-point lead on Portland atop the Atlantic Division.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 3, NORFOLK 0
Goaltender Brad Thiessen continued his remarkable run since returning from injury, posting a 35-save shutout as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton claimed a 3-0 road win over Norfolk on Friday in the first of a two-game set in Virginia this weekend.
Thiessen, who improved to 23-5-0 in 30 appearances this season, moved into a tie for the AHL lead with his sixth shutout, and he has now stopped 131 of 134 shots (.978) in six games back from injury (5-1-0).
Ben Street scored twice for the Penguins – including a late empty-netter – and Zach Sill rounded out the offense. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has now outscored opponents 10-1 in posting back-to-back victories despite missing each of its top seven scorers to NHL recall.
The Penguins improved to an AHL-best 41-15-0-0 and will battle the Admirals again on Saturday night in Norfolk.
The Admirals suffered their first shutout since a 2-0 loss at Hershey on Jan. 2.
CONNECTICUT 2, ADIRONDACK 1 (SO)
Kris Newbury tied the game late in the third period, and Connecticut went on to post a 2-1 road win over Adirondack on Friday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Whale will now return home to host the Harvest-Properties.com Whale Bowl outdoor game on Saturday night against the Providence Bruins at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
With the Whale in a 1-0 hole, Newbury tallied his ninth goal of the season at 17:11 of the third period to tie it up. Defenseman Stu Bickel earned the lone assist on the play.
Newbury then registered another goal in the third round of the shootout after teammate Tim Kennedy had put Connecticut on the board in the opening round. Whale goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris stopped all four Adirondack attempts after making 28 saves through the first 28 minutes.
Connecticut claimed its third straight win – all on the road – and opened up a three-point lead over Worcester for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
Mike Testwuide nabbed the lone goal for the Phantoms, who still extended their points streak to five games (3-0-1-1).
ROCHESTER 3, HERSHEY 2
Rochester built a 3-0 lead by early in the second period and then held on for a 3-2 win over visiting Hershey on Friday at Blue Cross Arena in a match-up of the AHL’s two senior-most franchises.
Michael Duco, A.J. Jenks, and Jeff LoVecchio netted goals for the Americans, who collected their season-high fourth straight victory and improved to 25-26-3-2 (55 points) for the season, eight points shy of a playoff spot in the North Division.
The Bears attempted a comeback, as defenseman Johann Kroll scored shorthanded for his first career AHL goal at 13:58 of the second period, and Jay Beagle potted his eighth of the year 4:22 into the third frame.
But Hershey came up short and lost for the third time in its last four games (1-3-0-0), falling 10 points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for first place in the East Division.
Amerks goaltender Tyler Plante (9-9-1). earned the victory with 37 saves on 39 shots between the pipes.
MILWAUKEE 2, HOUSTON 1 (SO)
Blake Geoffrion, Roman Josi, and Gabriel Bourque netted shootout goals to lift Milwaukee past visiting Houston by a 2-1 count on Friday in front of 9,529 fans at the Bradley Center.
Mark Van Guilder gave the Admirals a 1-0 advantage just 29 seconds into the second period, but Aeros forward Patrick O’Sullivan tied it up just 35 seconds later. That proved to be the only scoring of regulation.
Milwaukee rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith (9-4-1) turned aside 34 of 35 shots through the first 65 minutes before stopping four of six in the shootout, including each of Houston’s last three tries after the Aeros had opened with two goals in the first three rounds.
The Admirals improved to 6-1-0-1 in their last eight games and moved into a first-place tie with the Aeros in the West Division at 69 points apiece, though Milwaukee has played five fewer games. Houston is now winless in three straight (0-2-0-1).
CHICAGO 4, ROCKFORD 3
A three-goal second period propelled Chicago to a 4-3 road win over Rockford on Friday night at the MetroCentre.
The rookie Garbutt posted a game-high three points (1-2-3) as the Wolves earned their third consecutive victory and remained two points back of Texas for the Western Conference’s final postseason berth.
LAKE ERIE 5, MANITOBA 1
Five different Lake Erie skaters found the back of the net as the Monsters took sole possession of first place in the North Division with a 5-1 road win over Manitoba before 8,301 fans at the MTS Centre on Friday.
The Monsters (29-22-3-5, 66 points) matched a season high with their fifth consecutive victory, improved to 13-3-0-1 in their last 17 outings, and moved two points up on Manitoba for the division’s top spot.
Lake Erie goaltender Jason Bacashihua (13-13-3) improved his personal winning streak to four games with 29 saves on 30 shots between the pipes.
Guillaume Desbiens extended his goal-scoring streak to three contests for the Moose, who dropped their third straight games and slipped to 1-6-0-0 in their last seven outings.
OKLAHOMA CITY 3, ABBOTSFORD 1
Oklahoma City battled back from a 1-0 first-period deficit to claim a 3-1 win over Abbotsford on Friday night before 8,407 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
Mark Arcobello netted his first career AHL goal for the Barons at 7:18 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1, and Alexandre Giroux then notched his 28th goal of the year at 18:54, putting Oklahoma City on top for good.
Chris Vandevelde iced the victory with a last-minute empty-netter in the third period, helping the Barons improve to 11-4-0-1 in their last 16 games and remain one point back of Texas for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
Barons goaltender Martin Gerber (19-11-3) stopped 18 of 19 shots in net, and the veteran has now made 51 saves on 52 shots over his last two appearances.
Ryan Stone tallied the lone goal for the Heat, whose four-game winning streak came to an end.
Abbotsford will look for revenge when the teams head west to British Columbia for a rematch at the Entertainment & Sports Centre on Saturday night.