The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored three goals in the first period to defeat the Admirals 3-1 at Norfolk Scope in a key East Division battle on Wednesday night.
Only two points separate the top three teams in the East, as the Penguins sit in third place at 102 points and Norfolk (103 pts.), is just one point back of division leading Hershey (104 pts.).
Nolan Schaefer stopped 43 of 44 shots in the contest to improve his record to 9-3-1 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Stephen Dixon, Jean-Francois Jacques and Kurtis McLean all tallied for the Pens, who earned their fifth straight road win.
Martin St. Pierre scored the lone goal of the night for the Admirals, who need a win in their home finale vs. Wilkes-Barre on Friday night to tie the AHL record for home victories in a season.
HARTFORD 7, PORTLAND 4
Brandon Dubinsky tallied four points on the night, scoring two goals and two assists, to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to a 7-4 win over the visiting Portland Pirates.
Defenseman Marvin Degon registered a goal and a plus-4 on the night.
David McKee, who had allowed five goals in his first four starts for Portland, suffered his first loss of the year for the Pirates.
The defeat keeps Portland three points out of fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
MANCHESTER 5, WORCESTER 3
Manchester remained four points up on the rest of the Atlantic Division with a 5-3 win over the Worcester Sharks at the DCU Center.
Jason LaBarbera made 35 saves on 38 shots to improve his record to 37-20-1 and regain the league lead in wins among goaltenders.
SYRACUSE 3, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Dan LaCosta made 31 saves on 32 shots to backstop the Syracuse Crunch to a 3-1 win over Grand Rapids at Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter.
Syracuse’s slim playoff hopes remain alive; the Crunch are now eight points behind the fourth-place Griffins with five games remaining.
Scott Parse scored in the loss for Grand Rapids.
BINGHAMTON 4, HERSHEY 1
Jeff Heerema scored twice and Brian Elliott stopped 40 of 41 shots as Binghamton earned a 4-1 win over Hershey at the Broome County Arena.
Andrew Joudrey, a former teammate of Elliott’s at the University of Wisconsin, scored the only goal for the Bears in his professional debut.
OMAHA 3, MANITOBA 2
Omaha took over sole possession of first place in the West Division with a 3-2 win over the visiting Manitoba Moose at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
David Van der Gulik scored all three goals for the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, who are two points ahead of second-place Chicago with one game in hand.
Van der Gulik was originally credited with two goals and an assist, but an official scoring change on Thursday morning gave him his first career hat trick.
Brad Moran led the North-leading Moose with a goal and an assist in the loss.
PHILADELPHIA 3, BRIDGEPORT 0
Scott Munroe stopped all 22 shots he faced from the Sound Tigers to record his second shutout of the year and 15th win as Philadelphia defeated Bridgeport, 3-0, at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Jonathan Matsumoto led the Phantoms with a goal and an assist as Philly snapped a two-game skid at home with the win.
The loss keeps the Sound Tigers tied with Albany for fourth place in the East Division.
ROCHESTER 5, TORONTO 3
The Rochester Americans gained ground on Manitoba in the North Division with a 5-3 win over Toronto at the Blue Cross Arena.
Anthony Stewart scored a goal and an assist, and Drew Larman tallied what proved to be the game winner for Rochester, who moved back into second place in the North Division with the win. The Amerks are seven points behind the front-running Moose with two games in hand.
Adam Dennis made 40 saves on 43 shots to backstop the Amerks to the win and even his record to 16-16-0.
Colin Murphy registered a goal and an assist for the Marlies in a losing effort.
SPRINGFIELD 3, ALBANY 2
The Springfield Falcons ended a seven-game losing skid and set the Albany River Rats back in their quest for a playoff berth with a 3-2 win at the MassMutual Center.
Rookie Jacob Micflikier scored the game-winning goal with 3:19 left to play to give the Falcons the win.
Jonathan Boutin earned the victory for Springfield by stopping 27 of 29 shots.
The loss keeps the River Rats tied with Bridgeport for fourth place in the East Division.