Phantoms rally past Albany, tighten race for fourth

Wednesday’s Boxscores

Philadelphia continued its late-season playoff push by rallying for a 6-3 victory over Albany on Wednesday at the Wachovia Spectrum. Second-year pro David Laliberte netted his first career hat trick and added an assist in the win, which pulled the Phantoms within three points of Binghamton for the East Division’s final playoff spot.

Albany got out to the quick start, taking a 3-1 lead after the first period of play. Brad Herauf, Jerome Samson, and Harrison Reed all scored for the River Rats.

The Phantoms then netted five unanswered goals, including three of their own in the middle frame. Laliberte scored twice in that period, and Jared Ross potted his team-leading 28th marker of the season.

The 23-year-old Laliberte completed the hat trick 10:21 into the third stanza, and Jonathan Matsumoto rounded out the night’s scoring at 18:01, completing a four-point effort of his own (1-3-4).

Rookie Patrick Maroon (0-2-2) also chipped in multiple assists for the Phantoms, and goaltender Scott Munroe stopped 35 of 38 shots to pick up the victory in net.

Philadelphia won its third straight game and improved to 7-2-0-2 in its last 11 outings. The Phantoms have gained nine points on Binghamton in the standings during that time period.

Hartford completed a domination of its season series against Portland with a 5-3 win over the visiting Pirates on Wednesday at the XL Center.

Mark Bell (1-1-2), Jordan Owens (1-1-2), Vladimir Denisov, Brodie Dupont, and Devin DiDiomete all scored for the Wolf Pack, and Brock McBride posted two assists for his first professional points.

The Wolf Pack finished 7-1-0-0 against the Pirates this season and won for the 16th time in their last 20 outings overall (16-3-1-0). Hartford is now four points up on Providence for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Hartford goaltender Matt Zaba earned the victory with 32 saves, improving to 22-9-0 on the campaign.

Marek Zagrapan potted his 20th goal of the season for Portland, which also received power play markers from Colin Murphy and AHL All-Rookie forward Tim Kennedy.

Defenseman Patrick Traverse, who had scored once in his previous 21 games, lit the lamp on the power play 2:17 into overtime to give Worcester a 3-2 road win over Springfield at the MassMutual Center.

The Sharks improved to an AHL-best 7-1 in overtime decisions this season, including a 4-0 mark against the Falcons alone.

The teams traded regulation goals, with Jason Demers and Matt Jones scoring for Worcester and Ryan Potulny – his team-leading 33rd of the season – and Guillaume Lefebvre doing the honors for Springfield.

Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss made 30 saves in the victory, which lifted Worcester (38-34-1-2, 79 points) into a tie with Portland for third place in the Atlantic Division.

It marked the last home of the season for the Falcons, who wrap up their schedule with five straight on the road.

Manchester went 3-for-4 in the shootout to emerge with a 3-2 win over visiting Lowell in the teams’ season series finale at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The Monarchs received shootout markers from Matt Moulson, Marty Murray, and rookie Justin Azevedo, and goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped three of Lowell’s four tries. Bernier, named Reebok X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March earlier in the day, stopped 27 of 29 shots through regulation and overtime.

Moulson gave Manchester the 1-0 lead with a power play marker in the first period’s closing seconds, but Devils rebounded to take a 2-1 advantage on scores from Matthew Corrente and Ryan Murphy. Manchester’s Kevin Westgarth then tied it midway through the final frame.

The fifth-place Monarchs are now just one point back of both Worcester and Portland, who are tied for third in the Atlantic.

A three-goal third period propelled Rockford to a 5-2 road win over Lake Erie at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Rob Klinkhammer had a hand in all three third-period markers (1-2-3) for the IceHogs, and Jake Dowell and Adam Pineault also scored to pad what had already been a 2-1 lead for the visitors.

The IceHogs grabbed that 2-1 advantage on a first-period tally by Evan Brophey and a goal in the second period from Jeff Christian, his first in the AHL since the 1993-94 campaign with Albany.

Rockford goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 30 of 32 shots in the winning effort, as the IceHogs won for the third time in their last four games (3-1-0-0).

After getting only two pucks past Binghamton goaltender Jeff Glass on 49 shots though the first 65 minutes, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 3-for-3 in the shootout to take a 3-2 road win over the Senators at the Broome County Arena.

Miroslav Satan, Janne Pesonen, and Mark Letestu netted the shootout goals for the Penguins. After surrendering a score to Greg Mauldin in the first round, Pens goaltender John Curry stopped the next three tries. Curry made 38 saves to improve to 32-14-0 this season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jeff Taffe and Binghamton defenseman Derek Smith exchanged first period goals. After a scoreless second, Zack Smith gave the Sens a 2-1 lead with a power play goal 6:02 into the third. But Letestu netted the equalizer just 1:07 later, also with the man advantage.

The Penguins (47-24-2-2, 98 points) extended their winning streak to four games and pulled back into a tie with Bridgeport for second place in the East Division. The pair is three points behind Hershey for the top spot.

Norfolk allowed the game’s first and last goals but scored the middle three to emerge with a 3-2 win over division-leading Hershey at the Scope.

The Bears grabbed a 1-0 lead when Chris Bourque scored just 51 seconds after the opening face-off. But Norfolk’s Blair Jones and Radek Smolenak found the back of the net later in the first before John Swanson – making his professional debut – extended the lead to 3-1 midway through the second frame.

Swanson’s goal would prove to be the game-winner when Giroux netted his league-leading 55th goal of the season 1:01 into the third frame for the Bears.

Admirals goaltender Craig Kowalski stopped 34 of 36 shots to pick up the victory, which improved Norfolk to 3-1-0-0 in its last four contests.

Quad City took a 2-0 lead into the third period and held on for a 3-1 win over visiting Milwaukee at the I Wireless Center.

Cam Cunning and Carsen Germyn scored for the Flames in the first and second periods, respectively, and defenseman Anders Eriksson assisted on both markers.

The Admirals cut the deficit in half when Ian McKenzie scored 9:08 into the final frame, but Kris Chucko sealed the Quad City victory by tallying an empty-netter with a minute to go.

Flames rookie goaltender Leland Irving made 20 saves on 21 shots and improved his season mark to 21-17-2.

Milwaukee, which clinched the West Division title on Sunday, is just 1-4-0-1 in its last six outings.

Peoria goaltender Manny Legace posted a 30-save shutout as the Rivermen captured a 3-0 win over visiting Chicago at Carver Arena.

Yan Stastny, Julian Talbot, and Carl Corazzini netted goals for the Rivermen, and defenseman Danny Richmond assisted on all three markers. Talbot’s tally was his 20th of the season, joining Trent Whitfield and Steve Regier for the team lead in that category.

Legace improved to 11-7-1 with three whitewashes for Peoria, which reached the 40-win plateau (40-31-2-2, 84 points) for the first time since 2005-06 and pulled back into a tie with Houston for second place in the West Division.

The struggling Wolves, now 3-7-1-1 in their last 12 contests, fell five points out of a playoff spot with five games to play.