MANITOBA 7, SAN ANTONIO 2
Manitoba, which entered the night atop the North Division despite ranking just 18th in the AHL in offense, erupted for a season-high seven goals on Saturday en route to a 7-2 road win over San Antonio at the AT&T Center.
The Moose (37-23-1-5, 80 points) earned extended their winning streak to three games, improved to 6-1-0-0 in their last seven points, and moved three points up on Hamilton and Toronto for first place in the North Division.
Bill Sweatt led the Moose’s offensive attack with a pair of goals on the night, matching his output from the previous 16 games combined. Shawn Weller and rookie Cody Hodgson each posted a goal and an assist, and first-year defenseman Kevin Connauton also found the back of the net.
The Moose improved to 7-3-0-0 on their marathon 11-game road trip, which finally ends on Sunday with a return visit to Houston after earning a 2-1 shootout win over the Aeros on Friday. Following Sunday’s contest, Manitoba will play eight straight and 10 of its last 12 games on home ice.
LAKE ERIE 3, TORONTO 2
Julian Talbot broke a 2-2 tie at 12:40 of the third period, completing Lake Erie’s rally from a 2-0 deficit as the Monsters collected a crucial 3-2 road win over Toronto on Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Monsters, who beat Hamilton on Friday night, improved to 10-3-0-0 in their last 13 games and closed to within one point of the Bulldogs and Marlies for second place in the North Division. Only three teams from the North are guaranteed a postseason spot.
After a scoreless first period, Toronto grabbed a 2-0 edge on second-period strikes by Mike Zigomanis (2:01) and rookie Nazem Kadri (6:35), who assisted on Zigomanis’s goal for a multiple-point afternoon.
Defenseman Shawn Belle, acquired by parent-club Colorado at the NHL trading deadline, netted his first goal in a Lake Erie uniform to put the Monsters on the board at 11:25 of the second frame. Greg Mauldin then tied it up with a shorthanded marker a little more than four minutes later.
Monsters goaltender Jason Bacashihua (17-15-3) earned the victory with 29 saves, improving to 8-2-0 in his last 10 appearances.
HAMILTON 3, TEXAS 2
Rookie forward Hunter Bishop notched the eventual game-winning goal and added an assist on Saturday afternoon as Hamilton eked out a 3-2 win over visiting Texas at Copps Coliseum.
Bishop’s goal came at 18:17 of the third period and gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage at the time. The tally proved decisive when Stars forward Travis Morin connected on the power play with five seconds left in regulation.
Bulldogs rookie winger Ian Schultz tallied a goal for his first professional point, and Andrew Conboy also scored in the winning effort. Hamilton defensemen Frederic St. Denis (0-1-1) and Mathieu Carle were each plus-3 on the afternoon.
Goaltender Drew MacIntyre earned the win with 36 saves in net for the Bulldogs, who bounced back from a 4-2 loss to Lake Erie on Friday and remained one point ahead of the Monsters for a playoff spot in the North Division. Hamilton and Toronto are tied for second place with 77 points apiece.
Morin registered both goals for Texas in the loss, and the Stars are now winless in three straight outings (0-2-0-1). They continue a five-game road swing on Sunday in Toronto.
ALBANY 2, SPRINGFIELD 1
Brad Mills’ goal at 6:39 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie and sent Albany to a 2-1 win over struggling Springfield in Saturday matinee action at the Times Union Center.
The Devils earned their third straight win and moved to 4-1-0-0 in their last five outings, while the Falcons are now winless in a season-high six straight tilts (0-5-1-0).
2011 AHL All-Star Matt Anderson and Jay Leach picked up helpers on Mills’s game-winner, which lifted Albany to its second win in three tries against the Falcons this season (2-1-0-0). The teams conclude their four-game season series on Apr. 8 in Springfield.
Devils goaltender Dave Caruso stopped 28 of 29 shots to pick up the victory between the pipes.
PORTLAND 5, PROVIDENCE 4
Colin Stuart scored on the power play with 1:22 left in regulation as Portland remained red-hot while dealing a blow to Providence’s playoff hopes with a 5-4 win over the visiting Bruins on Saturday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates claimed their season-high sixth straight win, moved to 22-6-1-1 in their last 30 contests, and maintained a one-point edge on Manchester atop the Atlantic Division, and Portland still holds four games in hand on the Monarchs.
Defensemen Marc-Andre Gragnani and T.J. Brennan picked up assists on the game-winner by Stuart, which was his 14th goal of the season and marked Portland’s first power play goal on six opportunities for the night.
Paul Byron and rookie Luke Adam each posted a goal and two assists for the Pirates, while Gragnani and Dennis McCauley also found the back of the net. Rookie Corey Tropp chipped a trio of assists in the winning effort.
Pirates goaltender Jeff Jakaitis emerged with the victory after making 45 saves on 49 shots between the pipes.
MANCHESTER 7, BRIDGEPORT 0
Manchester torched a struggling Bridgeport club for four goals in the second period, breaking open a 1-0 game en route to a 7-0 win over the visiting Sound Tigers on Saturday before 7,825 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Monarchs halted a three-game winless skid (0-2-0-1) and remained one point back of surging Portland for first place in the Atlantic Division.
John Zeiler, who had totaled one goal in his previous 16 games, scored twice and added an assist to pace Manchester’s offense. Oscar Moller recorded a goal and two assists for the Monarchs, while Justin Azevedo, Justin Johnson (1-1-2), and defensemen Jake Muzzin and Jordan Hill also found the back of the net.
Two-time AHL All-Star defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov contributed two assists on the night, and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (16-12-5) made 26 saves to pick up his second shutout of the season, both of which have come against the Sound Tigers.
Zatkoff also blanked the Tigers on 26 shots in a 5-0 win in Bridgeport on Feb. 26.
Bridgeport is now winless in eight straight contests (0-7-0-1).
CONNECTICUT 4, WORCESTER 2
Jeremy Williams tallied a pair of goals as Connecticut erased a 1-0 first-period deficit to double up Worcester by a 4-2 count on Saturday before 8,011 fans at the XL Center and move two points ahead of the Sharks for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
The teams will conclude their home-and-home set on Sunday with an equally important match-up at the DCU Center in Worcester.
An AHL All-Star this year, Williams netted his 26th and 27th goals of the season for the Whale, who rebounded from a 2-1 loss to Hershey on Friday and won for the fifth time in their last six games (5-1-0-0).
Rookie forward Tommy Wingels scored both goals for the Sharks and now shows three markers in his last two contests (3-0-3). Worcester’s brief two-game winning streak came to an end.
BINGHAMTON 3, CHARLOTTE 1
Jason Bailey netted his first two goals of the season to help Binghamton get back on track with a 3-1 road win over Charlotte on Saturday in front of 10,517 fans at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Bailey, who had been held without a point in his first 28 AHL games this season after totaling 6-1-7 in 62 outings for Binghamton last year, tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period and then provided an insurance marker early in the third frame.
The triumph halted Binghamton’s three-game losing skid and moved the Senators three points up on Worcester for the Eastern Conference’s crossover playoff spot. The B-Sens also pulled to within four points of idle Norfolk for fourth place in the East Division.
Jon Matsumoto initially gave the Checkers a 1-0 lead with a power play goal 3:02 after the opening face-off.
HERSHEY 3, ADIRONDACK 2 (OT)
Kyle Greentree netted his 24th goal of the season at 2:10 of overtime to allow Hershey to escape with a 3-2 road win over Adirondack at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday.
The Phantoms took a 1-0 lead when Mike Testwuide scored 47 seconds into the second period, and after Hershey went ahead 2-1, Tom Sestito tied it back up with just under seven minutes left in regulation.
Hershey (41-22-1-4, 87 points) earned its second consecutive victory and will conclude a three-game weekend by hosting Norfolk on Sunday afternoon at the Giant Center.
SYRACUSE 3, ROCHESTER 2
Brian McGrattan took a game-high 13 of Syracuse’s 37 shots and scored on two of them, leading the Crunch to a 3-2 win over fading Rochester on Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Known more as a physical presence, McGrattan has now racked up four goals in five games since joining Syracuse after totaling four goals in 49 games for the Providence Bruins to begin the season.
Crunch rookie forward Maxime Macenauer notched the game-winning goal at 11:46 of the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie at the time. Patrick Maroon and defenseman Mark Mitera earned assists on the play.
Goaltender Jean-Philippe Levasseur earned the victory with 35 saves in net for the Crunch, who established a new season high with their fourth consecutive win.
GRAND RAPIDS 5, OKLAHOMA CITY 2
Grand Rapids received goals from five different players and continued its surge toward a playoff spot in the North Division with a 5-2 road win over Oklahoma City on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center.
The Griffins bounced back from a 6-5 overtime loss in Oklahoma City on Friday, extended their points streak to six games (5-0-1-0), and closed to within five points of Hamilton and Toronto for a playoff spot in the North Division.
ABBOTSFORD 5, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4 (SO)
Abbotsford let a 4-2 lead slip away in the closing two minutes of regulation, but the Heat ultimately captured a 5-4 win over league-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday at the Entertainment & Centre.
Forward Ales Kotalik notched the lone shootout goal for either side, lifting the Heat to their league-leading 11th shootout victory of the season (11-5). Abbotsford has won 32 games in all (32-26-4-5, 73 points), and more than a third have come via the shootout.
Abbotsford appeared well on its way to a regulation win in this one, though, holding a 4-2 advantage before the Penguins forced overtime on late third-period goals by Brett Sterling (18:36) and defenseman Andrew Hutchinson (19:21).
Heat goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux stuffed all five Wilkes-Barre shootout bids after making 34 saves through the first 65 minutes.
With the win, Abbotsford closed back to within four points of a playoff spot in the North Division.
The Penguins (46-18-0-1) lost a game beyond regulation for the first time this season, becoming the final AHL team to suffer that fate.