GRAND RAPIDS 2, NORFOLK 1
Goaltender Jimmy Howard made a season-high 47 saves to backstop Grand Rapids to a 2-1 win over Norfolk on Friday at the Scope. Mike Walsh and Cory Emmerton scored for the Griffins, who clinched a playoff berth and will return to postseason action after a one-year absence.
Walsh responded for the Griffins just 26 seconds later, and Emmerton tallied the game-winner 5:01 into the second frame. Rookie Justin Abdelkader and veteran Darren Haydar earned helpers on Emmerton’s ninth goal of the season.
The victory kept the Griffins six points back of Manitoba for first place in the North Division race.
Grand Rapids improved to 2-1-0-0 on its franchise-record eight-game road swing, which continues with a pair of games in Philadelphia this weekend.
HERSHEY 4, BINGHAMTON 0
The Hershey Bears punched their ticket to the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 road win over Binghamton at the Broome County Arena on Friday. Rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 47 saves to earn his first career AHL shutout, improving to 7-4-2 on the campaign.
Chris Bourque, Kyle Wilson, and rookie defenseman Karl Alzner all posted a goal and an assist for the Bears, and Alexandre Giroux netted his league-leading 52nd marker of the campaign. Defenseman Sami Lepisto chipped in two assists in the victory.
Hershey extended its winning streak to four games and will make its fourth consecutive playoff appearance. The Bears won the 2006 Calder Cup title and reached the Finals again in 2007.
Binghamton remained six points up on Philadelphia for the East Division’s fourth and final playoff position.
HARTFORD 5, ALBANY 1
Hartford continued its dominance of Albany with a 5-1 road win over the River Rats on Friday at the Times Union Center.
Artem Anisimov and Mark Bell each scored twice for the Wolf Pack, and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau put up a game-high three points (1-2-3). Hartford swept its two-game season series from Albany and captured its 13th straight win over the River Rats dating to the 2004-05 season.
The Wolf Pack received a pair of assists apiece from Patrick Rissmiller and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, and rookie goaltender Matt Zaba made 19 saves in the winning effort. Hartford maintained a one-point lead on Providence atop the Atlantic Division.
Tomas Pospisil netted the River Rats’ lone goal of the night.
PORTLAND 3, LOWELL 2
Portland registered a three-goal second period and held on in the third for a 3-2 win over Lowell at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Goaltender Jhonas Enroth made 39 saves on 41 shots to help the Pirates to their fourth straight win over Lowell. Portland remained tied with Worcester for fourth place in the Atlantic and moved one point back of Manchester for the third spot.
TORONTO 3, PHILADELPHIA 0
Toronto snapped a four-game winless skid (0-2-1-1) with a 3-0 blanking of Philadelphia on Friday at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Tim Stapleton and Jaime Sifers potted first-period goals for the Marlies, and Ryan Hamilton added a second-period score. Stapleton (1-1-2) and Jeremy Williams (0-2-2) finished with multiple points on the night.
Marlies goaltender Adam Munro stopped all 27 shots sent his way to record his second shutout of the campaign. Toronto upped its lead to three points on Syracuse for fourth place in the North Division.
The Phantoms were shut out for the seventh time this season and stayed six points back of Binghamton for fourth place in the East race.
PROVIDENCE 3, MANCHESTER 1
Providence held off Manchester by a 3-1 count on Friday before 7,759 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Bruins remained a point behind Hartford for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Boychuk added two points (1-1-2) to his AHL defensemen-leading total (20-40-60), and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 23 saves to earn his league-leading 31st win of the season (31-19-3).
The Monarchs are now just one point ahead of both Portland and Worcester for third place in the Atlantic race.
WORCESTER 3, SPRINGFIELD 2
Worcester rallied for a 3-2 win over visiting Springfield at the DCU Center. Dan DaSilva netted a pair of goals for the Sharks, including the game-winner to break a 2-2 tie just 21 seconds into the third period.
Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss earned the victory with 25 saves, helping Worcester stay tied with Portland for the Atlantic’s fourth and final postseason berth.
SAN ANTONIO 4, SYRACUSE 1
San Antonio dealt Syracuse’s playoff hopes a hit with a 4-1 road win over the Crunch on Friday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Combined with Toronto’s win in Philadelphia, the Crunch fell three points back of the Marlies for fourth place in the North Division race.
Joel Perrault and Garth Murray scored to give the Rampage a 2-0 lead by the early stages of the third period. After red-hot Alexandre Picard tallied a power play goal for Syracuse at 12:50 to make it 2-1, San Antonio’s Wyatt Smith and Alexander Nikulin each scored into an empty net.
Ex-Crunch goaltender Karl Goehring earned the victory in net for San Antonio with 38 saves on 39 shots.
LAKE ERIE 4, ROCHESTER 2
Playing in his second career game, David Marshall notched his first professional goal and added an assist as Lake Erie doubled up Rochester by a 4-2 count at the Blue Cross Arena.
Lake Erie goaltender Tyler Weiman earned the win with 21 saves and upped his season record to 19-17-2.
PEORIA 4, MILWAUKEE 3
Julian Talbot snapped a 10-game drought with a pair of goals to pace Peoria past Milwaukee by a 4-3 count at Carver Arena.
Carl Corazzini and Steve Regier also found the back of the net for the Rivermen, and goaltender Manny Legace stopped 23 of 26 shots in the winning effort. Peoria improved to 9-2-1-1 in its last 13 contests.
West Division-leading Milwaukee has now lost three straight games in regulation for the first time all season, and the Admirals are just 1-4-0-0 in their last five outings.
QUAD CITY 2, IOWA 0
Rookie goaltender Leland Irving pitched a 26-save shutout as Quad City captured a critical 2-0 win over visiting Iowa at the I Wireless Center.
Irving collected his first professional shutout and improved his season record to 19-17-1.
The Flames are now two points back of Iowa for sixth place in the West Division and remain in the mix for a playoff spot in the crowded West field.
MANITOBA 2, HAMILTON 1 (OT)
Defenseman Nolan Baumgartner scored 1:48 into overtime to send Manitoba to a 2-1 win over Hamilton before 8,800 fans in the opener of the teams’ two-game set at the MTS Centre.
Jason Krog tallied a power play goal in the third period for the Moose, who moved to 10-3-0-1 in their last 14 contests and stayed six points ahead of Grand Rapids for first place in the North Division.
Moose goaltender Cory Schneider earned the victory in net with 35 saves on 36 shots.
Ryan Russell scored for the Bulldogs, who still clinched a playoff spot with the overtime loss by virtue of Syracuse’s regulation loss to San Antonio. Hamilton will return to postseason action for the first time since skating off with the 2007 Calder Cup championship.
After an off-day on Saturday, the Moose and Bulldogs will square off again on Sunday.
ROCKFORD 3, HOUSTON 2 (SO)
Rookie Pete MacArthur scored in the 13th round of a shootout to give Rockford a 3-2 road win over Houston on Friday at the Toyota Center.
MacArthur had been unsuccessful on two previous attempts before converting the winner, which ended the shootout three rounds short of the AHL record.
Evan Brophey and Tim Brent also potted shootout markers for the IceHogs, who received regulation tallies from Rob Klinkhammer and Jack Skille, the latter tying the game with 2:14 to play in the third period.
IceHogs goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 11 of 13 shots in the shootout to earn the win, helping Rockford move three points up on Chicago for the West Division’s fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot.