SYRACUSE 5, ALBANY 4
A night after he netted a hat trick, Syracuse forward Alexandre Picard topped it with a four-goal performance on Saturday to lead the Crunch past visiting Albany by a 5-4 final. Picard capped his night with the game-winner in the third period, as the Crunch won their season-high fifth straight contest and moved within two points of a playoff spot.
Picard scored once in the first period and twice in the second before breaking a 4-4 tie at 8:58 of the final stanza.
The former first-round draft pick, who put up three goals against Rochester on Friday, is the sixth player this season to record four goals in a game and the first to register consecutive hat tricks since Brandon Bochenski did so for Norfolk on Dec. 30, 2006 and Jan. 3, 2007.
The River Rats originally grabbed a 3-1 lead and then held a 4-3 advantage before Syracuse scored twice to win it. Albany captain Pat Dwyer notched a hat trick of his own on the night, and defenseman Mark Flood posted a goal and an assist.
Syracuse (35-18-4-2, 76 points) is now just two points back of Toronto for fourth place and a playoff spot in the North Division. Attendance at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Saturday was 6,090.
HERSHEY 5, PORTLAND 4
Hershey’s league-leading offense sprang to life in the third period, scoring three times to rally for a 5-4 road win over Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Bears found themselves down 4-1 before Kyle Wilson made it a 4-2 game late in the second period. Alexandre Giroux then scored on the power play 36 seconds into the third and tallied the equalizer, his 49th goal of the season, at the 18:33 mark. Defenseman Staffan Kronwall followed with the game-winner at 19:21, his first goal in a Bears uniform.
Rookie Oskar Osala initially gave Hershey a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but Portland would score the next four. Mark Mancari had a goal and a helper for the Pirates, who also received markers from Marek Zagrapan, Marc-Andre Gragnani, and Felix Schutz.
Bears goaltender Daren Machesney emerged with the victory after making 22 saves on the night.
BRIDGEPORT 3, PROVIDENCE 2
Jon Sim posted a goal and an assist as Bridgeport edged Providence by a 3-2 count on Saturday before 5,192 fans at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Bridgeport rookie goaltender Nathan Lawson earned the win, making 28 saves on 30 shots. The Sound Tigers maintained a one-point lead on Hershey for first place in the East Division race.
LOWELL 3, WORCESTER 0
Lowell goaltender Jeff Frazee turned in his second straight 43-save performance, this time for a shutout, as the Devils took a 3-0 win over Worcester at Tsongas Arena.
Frazee, a 2009 AHL All-Star who stopped 43 of 44 against Hershey on Friday, earned his third shutout and improved to 25-17-5 on the campaign.
Lowell closed to within one point of the Sharks for fifth place in the Atlantic Division and is now three points back of Manchester for the division’s fourth and final playoff spot.
NORFOLK 2, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 1
Norfolk snapped a three-game losing streak to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a 2-1 win over the visiting Penguins at the Scope.
Brandon Bochenski snapped a 1-1 tie with a power play goal 3:52 into the second period, and neither side scored the rest of the way.
Admirals goaltender Craig Kowalski earned the win with 37 saves on 38 shots in net.
The Penguins fell three points back of Hershey for second place in the East Division and four behind Bridgeport for first.
HARTFORD 7, SPRINGFIELD 2
Rookie Dale Weise racked up a season-high four points (2-2-4) as Hartford cruised to its most lopsided win of the season, a 7-2 road decision over Springfield at the MassMutual Center.
The seven goals were a season high for Hartford, and the win gave the first-place Wolf Pack (40-25-3-3, 86 points) their sixth straight 40-win season, joining Milwaukee in attaining that AHL record-tying feat this season.
BINGHAMTON 2, PHILADELPHIA 1 (SO)
Binghamton took another step towards the playoffs with a 2-1 shootout win over Philadelphia before 8,117 fans at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Senators goaltender Jeff Glass made 20 saves through the first 60 minutes and stopped four of six in the shootout. Jared Ross and Rob Sirianni scored on the Phantoms’ first two tries before Glass closed the door.
Sirianni and Binghamton’s Ilya Zubov exchanged second-period power play goals for the only scoring in regulation.
With the win, the Senators moved eight points up on Philadelphia for the East Division’s fourth and final playoff berth.
GRAND RAPIDS 3, TORONTO 2
Grand Rapids edged Toronto by a 3-2 count before a second straight sellout crowd of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena, completing a weekend sweep of the division-rival Marlies.
Marlies forward Jiri Tlusty netted his 24th of the season six minutes into the final frame to cut the lead in half. The Griffins’ Darren Haydar scored into an empty net with a minute to go, a goal that proved to be the game-winner when Bates Battaglia brought the Marlies within one again at 19:40.
Grand Rapids goaltender Daniel Larsson earned the victory with 24 saves on 26 shots.
HAMILTON 3, CHICAGO 2 (SO)
Mike Glumac scored in both regulation and the shootout as Hamilton edged Chicago by a 3-2 count before 10,812 fans at Allstate Arena in a match-up of the last two Calder Cup champions.
Glumac’s six-game goal-scoring run was snapped on Friday at Quad City, but he tallied his 30th of the season 4:30 into the contest.
The Wolves, who had been 7-1 in shootouts this season, fell to 2-5-0-1 in their last eight games overall.
IOWA 2, QUAD CITY 1
A pair of power play goals lifted Iowa to a 2-1 win over visiting Quad City on Saturday before 7,971 fans at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Chops, who are on their first two-game winning streak since a three-game run in early February, are now two points back of Chicago and Rockford for the West Division’s final guaranteed playoff spot.
ROCKFORD 3, MANITOBA 2 (SO)
Rockford scored on three of its four shootout tries to come away with a 3-2 win over league-leading Manitoba before 5,994 fans at the MetroCentre.
The IceHogs seemed poised for a regulation loss until Tyler Mosienko netted a power play goal with 1:54 to go in the third period. Evan Brophey potted a second-period goal for Rockford, while Jack Skille, Tim Brent, and Pete MacArthur all scored in the shootout.
Rockford goaltender Antti Niemi stopped all three Moose shooters after making 25 saves through the first 65 minutes to pick up the win in his first appearance for the IceHogs since Feb. 25.
HOUSTON 2, PEORIA 1
Houston maintained its hold on second place in the West Division with a 2-1 win over visiting Peoria on Saturday at the Toyota Center.
The Aeros and Rivermen entered deadlocked at 75 points apiece, but Houston moved two points up heading into the teams’ rematch on Sunday afternoon.
Aeros forward Jason Ryznar broke a 1-1 tie at 9:31 of the third period, with assists going to John Lammers and Matt Kassian. Rookie Matt Beaudoin also scored for Houston, and goaltender Nolan Schaefer made 19 saves in the victory.
Cam Paddock initially gave the Rivermen a 1-0 lead in the opening period. Peoria’s points streak was halted at four games (3-0-1-0).