GRAND RAPIDS 10, CHICAGO 8
Grand Rapids, a team which entered the night having totaled seven goals in its last eight games and ranked 25th in the AHL in offense, scored seven times in the second period and 10 times in all en route to a wild 10-8 road win over Chicago on Saturday before 7,535 fans at Allstate Arena.
The 18 combined goals marked the most in an AHL contest since March 29, 1996, when the Baltimore Bandits defeated the Binghamton Rangers by an identical 10-8 final. Grand Rapids’ 10 goals tied a franchise record, initially attained in a 10-5 win over Cincinnati on Oct. 24, 2001.
The Griffins, who snapped a five-game winless skid (0-4-0-1), had scored 50 goals through 20 games this season before erupting for one-fifth of that total in this one.
Tomas Tatar, who turns 20 years old on Wednesday, led the Griffins offense with two goals, five assists, and a plus-seven rating on the night. Four of his seven points came during Grand Rapids’ seven-goal middle period, and he registered two more assists in the third period.
Tatar entered the night showing nine points (2-7-9) in 20 games this year and turned in the AHL’s first seven-point effort since Chicago’s Jason Krog on Nov. 4, 2006.
Jan Mursak (2-2-4) and captain Jamie Tardif (2-1-3) also scored two goals apiece for the Griffins. Jordan Owens contributed a goal and two helpers for a three-point night, while Cory Emmerton (1-1-2), Chris Minard, and rookie defenseman Brendan Smith rounded out the visitors’ offense.
Griffins rookie goaltender Jordan Pearce (2-1-1), who made 34 saves on 42 shots, became the first AHL goaltender to earn a win despite allowing eight or more goals since Providence’s Scott Bailey in a 9-8 win over the Adirondack Red Wings on Dec. 11, 1996.
Darren Haydar recorded a team-best two goals and one assist for the Wolves, who led this game 2-0 and 3-1 before collapsing in the second period. After trailing 8-5 heading into the third period, Chicago cut its deficit to 8-7 but was unable to keep the Griffins from scoring.
The Wolves’ season-best four-game winning streak came to an end.
CONNECTICUT 3, BRIDGEPORT 2 (SO)
In the beginning of a new era for hockey in Hartford, the Connecticut Whale came out victorious in their first-ever game, taking a 3-2 shootout decision over Bridgeport on Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 13,089 fans at the downtown XL Center.
The Whale, who took over the franchise name on Saturday after the team was known for 13-plus years as the Hartford Wolf Pack, outshot Bridgeport 29-11 over the first two periods but had only a 1-0 lead to show for it on a goal by Brodie Dupont 15 minutes into the second frame.
But Sound Tigers defenseman Anton Klementyev lit the lamp at the 17:48 mark, ultimately forcing overtime.
After a scoreless extra session, Connecticut converted two of its shootout attempts while holding Bridgeport scoreless on four tries. Chad Kolarik and Jeremy Williams netted shootout goals for the Whale, and goaltender Chad Johnson went 4-for-4 after making 19 saves through the first 65 minutes.
It marked a sorely needed victory for the Whale, who had dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in Bridgeport the night before after leading that game 3-0 late in the third period. Connecticut is now 7-11-2-3 (19 points) for the season and one point back of Bridgeport for sixth place in the Atlantic Division.
The Sound Tigers went to overtime for the fifth time in their last eight games and show a 3-0-1-1 mark in those five contests.
The crowd of 13,089 fans made this the second-most attended AHL game in Hartford history, trailing only the 14,115 fans who turned out for a Wolf Pack game vs. Springfield on Jan. 24, 1998.
LAKE ERIE 5, OKLAHOMA CITY 3
Lake Erie’s struggling power play broke out with a 3-for-5 showing on the power play, and the Monsters came away with a 5-3 win over Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon and a split of the teams’ two-game weekend set at Quicken Loans Arena.
Ryan Stoa tallied a pair of power play goals for his fifth and sixth markers on the season. Stoa has recorded all six of those goals in his last six games after going his first 16 contests this year without scoring.
Prior to their 3-for-5 performance on Saturday, the Monsters ranked 28th in the AHL on the power play at 11.1 percent (11-for-99).
Oklahoma City’s three-game winning streak and five-game points streak (4-0-0-1) both came to an end.
TORONTO 2, SYRACUSE 1
Defenseman Josh Engel netted a power play goal with just 50 seconds left in regulation, breaking a 1-1 tie and sending Toronto to a 2-1 win over visiting Syracuse on Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.
With their third straight win and 10th in their last 15 games (10-2-0-3), the Marlies improved to 12-8-0-3 for the season and moved within three points of idle Hamilton for first place in the North Division.
Engel’s game-winner was assisted by former AHL All-Stars Christian Hanson and Matt Lashoff, and marked his fifth goal of the year after totaling four tallies (4-13-17) in 70 games for the Marlies last season.
Marlies rookie goaltender Ben Scrivens improved to 2-0-0 after making 32 saves on 33 shots.
The Crunch have now lost four straight in regulation and are winless in their last seven overall (0-6-0-1) since a 3-0 win at Albany on Nov. 12.
With the game tied at 2-2, Boychuk netted a power play goal at 1:49 of the third frame to put the Checkers on top to stay. Matsumoto added an empty-netter in the closing seconds, and Jerome Samson helped out on both tallies as part of his three assists on the night.
Chris Terry initially gave Charlotte a 1-0 lead 5:02 into the contest, but the Sharks struck back on goals from defensemen Joe Loprieno and Matt Irwin to take a 2-1 advantage into the first intermission. Charlotte’s Drayson Bowman tied it midway through the second frame.
The Checkers improved to 10-2-0-2 in their last 14 games and will now travel to Hershey for a Sunday afternoon battle with the Bears.
Worcester’s season-high three-game winning streak came to an end.
MANCHESTER 6, PORTLAND 1
Manchester jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first period and never looked back en route to a 6-1 win over the suddenly struggling Portland Pirates on Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Schenn, drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2009, now shows three goals and four points in his last two games for the Monarchs.
Defenseman Nick Crawford scored the Pirates’ lone goal early in the second period. Portland has now lost a season-high three straight games and fell three points back of the first-place Monarchs in the Atlantic Division.
Manchester upped its winning streak to three games and improved to 7-1-0-0 in its last eight contests.
HERSHEY 4, ADIRONDACK 0
Braden Holtby made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season, and Hershey captured a 4-0 home-ice win over struggling Adirondack before 10,215 fans at the Giant Center on Saturday.
Holtby, who has also made his first five career NHL appearances with Washington this year, improved to 5-0-1 in the AHL this season and earned his third career whitewash for the Bears.
Boyd Kane provided all the offense Hershey would need at 13:20 of the opening period and then ended the night’s scoring with another marker 32 seconds into the third frame. The Bears also got goals from Andrew Gordon and former second-round draft pick Dmitri Kugryshev, who scored for the first time as a professional.
Steve Pinizzotto contributed two assists for the Bears, who improved to 3-0-0-0 against Adirondack this season, with all three meetings occurring on home ice.
The last-place Phantoms have now lost seven straight games (0-6-0-1) and fell to 1-15-2-0 in their last 18 contests.
ALBANY 4, BINGHAMTON 3
Albany jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes and then held on for a 4-3 win over visiting Bridgeport on Saturday night at the Times Union Center.
The victory snapped a six-game home-ice winning streak for the Devils, who collected their first win at home since a 2-1 triumph over Charlotte on Oct. 20. Albany is just 3-7-0-0 at Times Union Center for the season.
Jim O’Brien put the B-Sens on the board with his 10th goal of the season – a power play marker at 4:16 of the second frame, and rookie Colin Greening made it 3-2 at 4:38 of the third period.
Albany’s Matt Anderson stretched his club’s lead to 4-2 with a power play goal of his own at 11:42, and that marker stood up to be the game-winner when Senators forward Zack Smith scored on the man advantage three minutes later.
Devils goaltender Dave Caruso stopped 31 of 34 shots to earn his first AHL victory of the season (1-1-0).
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4, ROCHESTER 3
First-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped out to a 3-0 lead, coughed it up, but then prevailed over visiting Rochester by a 4-3 count on Saturday before 7,845 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Geoff Walker bailed the Penguins out when he scored his first goal of the season 4:17 into the third period, breaking a 3-3 deadlock.
But Rochester battled back to make it 3-3 after two periods. Defenseman Clay Wilson and Mike Kostka each tallied power play goals sandwiched around a Kenndal McArdle even-strength marker, and Chris Taylor earned a pair of assists.
The Penguins improved to an East Division-best 16-4-0-0 (32 points) on the season. Rochester, meanwhile, has now dropped six of its last seven contests (1-6-0-0).
NORFOLK 5, SPRINGFIELD 2
Mike Angelidis scored twice and added an assist, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie also recorded three points (1-2-3) as Norfolk cruised to a 5-2 road win over Springfield at the MassMutual Center.
The Admirals improved to 5-1-0-0 in their last six games and to 2-0-0-0 on their six-game road swing, which continues with a Sunday afternoon tilt in Bridgeport. At 12-5-3-1 (28 points) overall, Norfolk remains four points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for first place in the East Division.
Stefano Giliati (1-1-2) and Johan Harju also netted goals for the Admirals, and netminder Cedrick Desjardins (8-4-1) earned the win despite only having to make 13 saves on 15 shots. Norfolk held a 30-15 advantage in shots on goal.
The Falcons host the Eastern Conference’s top team, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, on Sunday afternoon.
TEXAS 5, SAN ANTONIO 2
Five different Texas skaters beat ex-Stars goaltender Matt Climie, and the Stars cooled off San Antonio with a 5-2 win over the visiting Rampage on Saturday before 5,961 fans at the Cedar Park Center.
Francis Wathier registered a goal and an assist for the Stars, who also got markers from Raymond Sawada, Sean Backman, Greg Rallo, and Fabian Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom scored into an empty net in the closing seconds.
The Stars avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game skid from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6.
PEORIA 5, ROCKFORD 0
Peoria rookie goaltender Jake Allen made 31 saves for his league-leading fourth shutout of the season, and Peoria rolled to a 5-0 road win over Rockford on Saturday at the MetroCentre.
Allen (7-1-0), a second-round draft pick by the St. Louis Blues in 2008, entered the night already leading the AHL in goals-against average and save percentage, and the 20-year-old now shows four shutouts in eight appearances on the year.
Veteran Graham Mink paced the Rivermen’s offense with a goal and two assists. Defenseman Mark Cundari registered a goal and a helper, and Nicholas Drazenovic, Derek Nesbitt, and Anthony Nigro also found the back of the net.
Defenseman Nathan Oystrick posted two assists for Peoria, which extended its points streak to five games (4-0-1-0) and moved into a tie with Oklahoma City for second place in the West Division, three points back of first-place San Antonio.
The last-place IceHogs, who were held to one or zero goals for the seventh time this season, fell to 8-11-0-2 on the year.
HOUSTON 2, MILWAUKEE 1 (SO)
Rookie defenseman Jared Spurgeon scored Houston’s lone goal in regulation and then tallied the decisive shootout goal as the Aeros eked out a 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Milwaukee on Saturday at the Toyota Center.
Defenseman Aaron Johnson tied it for the Admirals, though, when he scored unassisted at the 13:15 mark.
Following a scoreless overtime, Wellman scored on Houston’s first shootout try. Chris Mueller answered in the fourth round, and Spurgeon’s game-winner came in the sixth round.
Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin (7-5-1) stopped 28 of 29 shots through the first 65 minutes before turning aside five of six tries in the shootout.
MANITOBA 3, ABBOTSFORD 1
Manitoba quickly erased a 1-0 second-period deficit and earned a 3-1 road win over Abbotsford on Saturday before a sellout crowd of 7,044 fans at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
After Friday’s 2-1 shootout loss, the Moose earned a split of their two-game visit to British Columbia and moved to 6-1-0-1 in their last seven games overall.
The Heat grabbed a 1-0 lead at 16:09 of the second period when Matt Keith netted his team-leading 10th goal of the season. But only nine seconds later, on the very next shift, Manitoba’s Kevin Clark scored to even the tilt at 1-1.
Moose rookie forward Cody Hodgson then scored the game-winner midway through the third period and added an empty-netter late in the frame, and the former first-round draft pick now leads the Moose with 10 goals and 15 points (tied) in 19 games this season.
First-year Manitoba goaltender Eddie Lack secured the victory with 28 saves on 29 shots, improving to 6-4-1 on the campaign.
Abbotsford lost for the fourth time in its last five games (1-3-0-1).