LAKE ERIE 2, TORONTO 0
Ben Walter scored a power-play goal in the first period and Jason Bacashihua made 21 saves for his third shutout of the year as Lake Erie moved closer to its first-ever playoff berth with a 2-0 win over Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum.
The win, the Monsters’ ninth in their last 11 games, kept Lake Erie one point behind Hamilton and Manitoba for first place in the North Division. Including today’s game, the Monsters finish the season with five games against teams currently outside the playoff picture.
David Van der Gulik added an empty-net goal to ice the win for Lake Erie, with Greg Mauldin picking up an assist. The trio of Walter, Van der Gulik and Mauldin has combined for 41 points in the Monsters’ last 11 contests.
Bacashihua, who was 9-13-2 at the All-Star break, improved to 12-3-1 since with his fourth consecutive road win.
Ben Scrivens stopped 22 of 23 shots for the Marlies, who are winless in their last six at home (0-4-0-2) and 1-5-0-2 in their last eight overall.
HAMILTON 3, MANITOBA 2 (SO)
Nigel Dawes became the AHL’s first 40-goal scorer this season with two goals in regulation, and the 2010-11 Second Team All-Star added the only goal of the shootout as Hamilton moved percentage points ahead of Manitoba atop the North Division with a 3-2 win over the Moose at Copps Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The Winnipeg native Dawes (40-25-65) has 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points in 15 games since joining the Bulldogs after being acquired by Montreal from the Atlanta Thrashers.
Drew MacIntyre, another mid-season acquisition from the Thrashers organization, made 23 saves and then shut the door on all five Manitoba shootout attempts. MacIntyre improved to 9-5-2 (1.98, .935) in 17 appearances for Hamilton.
It was fifth straight win for the Bulldogs and it came in their final home game of the regular season. Hamilton finishes next week with two games in Abbotsford and two in Manitoba.
ABBOTSFORD 1, GRAND RAPIDS 0
Justin Dowling scored his first professional goal on a power play with 2:31 gone in the third period and Leland Irving earned his sixth shutout of the season as Abbotsford edged Grand Rapids, 1-0, at the Entertainment and Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Irving (28-22-2) was credited with 22 saves on the evening. His 28 wins are tied for second-most in the AHL.
The Heat win prevented three teams — Manitoba, Hamilton and Lake Erie — from clinching a playoff berth on Saturday, and moved Abbotsford into fourth place in the North Division, four points out of the final playoff spot in the conference.
It was the fifth straight home victory for Abbotsford, and the fifth straight loss overall for the Griffins.
Jordan Pearce stopped 25 of 26 shots in net for Grand Rapids.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4, ROCHESTER 3 (OT)
Their regular-season points championship was made official minutes earlier when Manchester defeated Portland, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins put an exclamation point on the evening with a 4-3 overtime win over Rochester at a sold-out Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Saturday night.
Geoff Walker scored the deciding goal at 3:11 of the extra period to improve the Penguins to 55-20-0-1 (111 points) with four games remaining. Wilkes-Barre has won the franchise’s first Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy and will have home-ice advantage throughout its run in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs.
It was the fourth straight win for the Pens overall and their fifth in a row at home.
HERSHEY 5, NORFOLK 4
Hershey answered Norfolk’s four-goal surge with one of its own, then held on for a 5-4 win and a sweep of its two-game visit to Scope.
Kyle Greentree scored twice for the Bears, Patrick McNeill notched a goal and two assists and Andrew Gordon tallied what would stand up as the game-winning goal with 2:26 remaining in the second period.
After Greentree opened the scoring just 59 seconds into the game, Norfolk stormed back to score four times on nine shots in the first period, with goals from Mattias Ritola, Marc-Antoine Pouliot (two) and Chris Durno giving the Ads a 4-1 lead at the first intermission.
Francois Bouchard got one back for the Bears early in the middle frame and Greentree notched his 30th goal of the season 35 seconds later to make it 4-3 before McNeill and Gordon put Hershey back in front.
Braden Holtby settled down after his shaky first period to stop all 22 Norfolk shots over the final 40 minutes.
Hershey is five points ahead of third-place Charlotte in the East Division as it tries to wrap up second place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Norfolk remains one point ahead of fifth-place Binghamton.
CHARLOTTE 5, ALBANY 3
A year after moving from Albany to Charlotte, the Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 5-3 win back at the Times Union Center on Saturday.
The first-year Checkers improved to 4-1-0-1 in their last six games, and opened up a five-point lead over fourth-place Norfolk in the East Division.
Matthew Pistilli, an Albany River Rat in 2009-10, scored the game-winning goal for Charlotte off a turnover with 2:49 remaining in regulation. Nicolas Blanchard, Cedric McNicoll, Jon Matsumoto and Jacob Micflikier also had goals for the Checkers, and Justin Pogge made 33 saves on the night.
Charlotte was 3-for-8 on the power play; Albany was 3-for-7.
MANCHESTER 5, PORTLAND 2
Manchester closed the gap in the race for the Atlantic Division title with a 5-2 home-ice win over Portland on Saturday night.
Eleven different Monarchs players recorded a point including goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who earned an assist while also stopping 23 of 25 shots.
Luke Adam and Derek Whitmore scored for the Pirates, the 26th goal of the season for both. The game marked the start of a stretch that will see Portland play seven times over the final nine days of the regular season.
Manchester trails first-place Portland by one point in the Atlantic, but the Pirates have two games in hand. The teams will meet again on Wednesday night.
SPRINGFIELD 6, CONNECTICUT 2
Rookie defenseman David Savard had two goals and an assist and Springfield scored five times in the third period to pull away with a 6-2 win over Connecticut at the MassMutual Center.
Springfield has now won three of four since a 12-game losing streak, scoring 16 goals in those three victories.
Connecticut has lost four straight (all in regulation), its longest skid since dropping nine in a row in late October and early November.
BRIDGEPORT 4, BINGHAMTON 3
Tyler McNeely scored his first two professional goals in the third period, including the winner with 1:23 to play, as Bridgeport got past host Binghamton, 4-3, on Saturday night.
McNeely, on a tryout of Northeastern University, buried the rebound of a Rhett Rakhshani shot on the decisive goal. He also helped preserve the win with his defensive play during a 6-on-3 Senators power play in the final seconds of the game.
Rakhshani finished the night with a goal and two assists and Robin Figren also scored for the Sound Tigers, who led by a single goal four times but never trailed in the game.
Mikko Koskinen made 28 saves to earn the win, Bridgeport’s fifth in its last six road games.
Ryan Keller, Roman Wick and Patrick Coulombe scored for the Senators, who again failed to overtake fourth-place Norfolk in the East Division. Binghamton remains one point behind the Admirals, but still five points ahead of Worcester for the crossover playoff berth in the conference.
The Bruins opened up the scoring at the 1:51 mark of the opening period. With traffic in front of the net, Arniel tipped a rebound passed Carter Hutton for his 23rd goal of the season.
The P-Bruins retook the lead at the 5:22 mark of the second period, when MacDermid caught a pass from Stefan Chaput in front of the Worcester net and shot the puck through Hutton’s five-hole to make it 2-1.
Just under eight minutes into the third period, the Bruins provided goaltender Michael Hutchinson with a critical insurance goal when Sauve took a top-shelf wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that trickled past Hutton. Providence finished off the scoring with an empty-net goal from Reich.
Hutchinson (33 saves) earned the win, while Hutton suffered the loss, making 24 saves. The defeat keeps the Sharks two points behind third-place Connecticut in the Atlantic Division.
SAN ANTONIO 3, PEORIA 2 (OT)
Matt Watkins’ goal with 31 seconds left in overtime gave San Antonio a big 3-2 win over Peoria at the AT&T Center.
With 85 points, the Rampage closed to within one point of Peoria and Chicago, who are tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Matt Climie made 27 saves in the win, which ended the Rampage’s 0-2-1-1 slide.
Jake Allen (33 saves) stopped all 25 shots he faced in the second and third periods, but was beaten on San Antonio’s only shot of overtime.
HOUSTON 6, CHICAGO 1
Patrick O’Sullivan finished with four points and Houston scored five times in the second period, rolling to a 6-1 road win over Chicago at Allstate Arena.
O’Sullivan tallied a goal and three assists – all on the power play, as the Aeros went 4-for-10 with the man advantage.
Robbie Earl, Casey Wellman and Jon DiSalvatore all chipped in a goal and an assist for Houston and Matt Hackett, lifted for a replacement in each of his two previous starts, was solid throughout and finished with 32 saves on 33 shots.
Darren Haydar scored for the Wolves, his 250th career AHL goal.
The Aeros are now off for seven days before closing out the regular season at home against Oklahoma City next Sunday.
OKLAHOMA CITY 2, TEXAS 0
Kevin Montgomery and Alexandre Giroux provided the offense and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 22 saves for his second shutout of the year as Oklahoma City concluded the home portion of its first AHL season with a 2-0 win over Texas on Saturday night.
The Barons, who vaulted into fourth place in the West Division with the win, close out the regular season with games next weekend at San Antonio, Texas and Houston.
Montgomery’s goal, 2:20 into the second period, was his fourth goal of the season and his third game-winner. The second-year pro has two goals in 13 games with the Barons after scoring twice in 51 games with Lake Erie to start the year.
Giroux added his 32nd goal of the season with 3:51 to play in regulation. It was his 340th career AHL tally.
Richard Bachman made 33 saves for the Stars, who missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth as their five-game winning streak came to an end.
ADIRONDACK 3, SYRACUSE 0
Adirondack scored three times in less than five minutes late in the second period and Michael Leighton stopped all 25 shots he faced at the other end as Adirondack blanked Syracuse, 3-0, in Glens Falls on Saturday night.
Adirondack broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal at the 12:31 mark of the second, when Wellwood took a pass at the point from Luke Pither, skated in a few strides and fired a wrister that eluded Crunch goaltender J.P. Levasseur.
Just 53 seconds later, Adirondack caught the Crunch back on their heels when Marshall’s blast from the right point found its way through a screen and into the back of the cage to make it 2-0.
The Phantoms took a 3-0 lead when J.P. Testwuide found a wide-open Read, who snapped a bid past Levasseur at 17:30 for his fourth goal in six games since joining Adirondack after his senior season at Bemidji State University.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Crunch, who had scored 26 goals in that span.