HARTFORD 6, SPRINGFIELD 1
Brodie Dupont netted a pair of goals as Hartford continued its late playoff push with a 6-1 road win over Springfield at the MassMutual Center on Saturday.
The Wolf Pack, who have appeared in 12 straight postseasons since beginning play in 1997-98, now trail Bridgeport by five points for the Eastern Conference’s final entry. The Sound Tigers dropped a 3-1 decision to Portland on Saturday.
Hartford still holds one game in hand on the Sound Tigers and will conclude the regular season in Bridgeport on Apr. 11.
Wolf Pack rookie goaltender Chad Johnson earned the victory with 30 saves on 31 shots between the pipes.
Rookie Jordan Eberle netted the Falcons’ lone goal of the contest, as Springfield fell to 0-4-1-1 in its last six outings.
TORONTO 2, MANITOBA 1 (SO)
Toronto scored on three of its four shootout attempts and secured a 2-1 win over visiting Manitoba at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
However, despite the loss, Manitoba clinched a playoff spot on Saturday courtesy of Lake Erie’s 4-2 loss at Peoria. The Moose, who advanced to the Calder Cup Finals in 2009, will be making their sixth consecutive postseason appearance.
Tim Brent tallied the game-tying goal shorthanded for the Marlies at 11:23 of the third period. Brent, Josh Engel, and Ryan Hamilton notched shootout goals, and goaltender James Reimer denied three of Manitoba’s four tries.
Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider stopped 30 of 31 shots through the first 65 minutes.
The Marlies will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
MANCHETER 3, PROVIDENCE 0
It turned out to be business as usual in Jonathan Bernier’s return to the Manchester net, as the First Team AHL All-Star goaltender turned aside 21 shots for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season in Manchester’s 3-0 win over visiting Providence before 8,264 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday.
Bernier, who earned his first career NHL shutout with parent-club Los Angeles earlier this week, helped the Monarchs secure their season-high seventh straight win and improve to 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games.
In a remarkable accomplishment, Manchester secured its sixth shutout in 10 match-ups against Providence this season and finished 9-1-0-0 in its season series with the Bruins.
Providence is now on the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
LOWELL 3, WORCESTER 2 (OT)
Rookie defenseman Cory Murphy scored on the power play with 1:12 left to play in overtime, lifting Lowell to a 3-2 win over visiting Worcester in a potential first-round playoff preview at Tsongas Center on Saturday.
Murphy and David McIntyre each finished with a goal and an assist for the Devils, who snapped a three-game losing skid and moved two points up on Bridgeport for fourth place in the Atlantic Division race.
Atlantic Division-leading Worcester, which nonetheless reached the 100-point plateau for the season, is winless in two straight games (0-1-1-0) for the first time since a three-game skid from Feb. 26 to Mar. 2 (0-2-0-1).
HERSHEY 6, SYRACUSE 1
On the same night they were awarded the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, the Hershey Bears won their AHL-record 58th game of the season with a 6-1 rout of visiting Syracuse before 9,868 fans at the Giant Center.
The Bears (58-15-0-3) also clinched the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s regular-season points champion.
Evan McGrath notched the Crunch’s lone goal of the evening.
ROCHESTER 4, HAMILTON 3 (SO)
Rochester goaltender Tyler Plante turned aside all four of Hamilton’s shootout tries to pace the Americans to a 4-3 road win over the Bulldogs in a North Division clash at Copps Coliseum.
Plante, who improved to 12-11-1 on the season, made 30 saves on 33 shots through regulation and overtime.
Michal Repik chipped in two assists for playoff-bound Rochester, which won its third straight game and moved to 4-0-0-1 in its last five contests.
PORTLAND 3, BRIDGEPORT 1
Portland extended its winning streak to six games on Saturday with a 3-1 road triumph over Bridgeport at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
The Pirates, who also moved to 8-0-1-1 in their last 10 contests, moved within two points of Worcester for first place in the Atlantic Division. Both teams have four games to play, including a head-to-head match-up in Portland on the last day of the regular season.
Wanvig and Mancari each scored on the power play, and Whitmore sealed Portland’s victory with a last-second empty-netter.
Sean Bentivoglio tallied the lone goal for the Sound Tigers, who fell to 1-4-0-0 in their last five games. Bridgeport still holds the crossover playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, currently sitting two points up on Norfolk and five ahead of Hartford.
ALBANY 4, ADIRONDACK 2
Albany staked itself to a 3-0 lead after two periods and held on for a 4-2 win over visiting Adirondack before 6,743 fans at the Times Union Center on Saturday.
After Adirondack climbed back into the contest on tallies by defensemen Danny Syvret and Erik Gustafsson, the River Rats’ Steven Goertzen sealed his club’s victory with a last-minute empty-net marker.
River Rats goaltender Justin Peters earned the win with 27 saves on 29 shots between the pipes.
With the victory, Albany clinched second place in the East Division and assured itself of home-ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
BINGHAMTON 5, NORFOLK 3
A four-goal second period propelled Binghamton to a 5-3 win over visiting Norfolk on Saturday at the Broome County Arena.
The Senators, who improved to 12-4-1-0 in their last 17 games, moved within six points of Bridgeport for a playoff spot in the East Division with four games left to play.
Martin St. Pierre, Jim O’Brien, Kaspars Daugavins, and Yannick Tifu all netted second-period goals for the Senators, and Ryan Keller added his team-leading 32nd goal of the year into an empty net late in the third frame.
Defensemen Brian Lee (0-3-3) and Derek Smith (0-2-2) joined forward Josh Hennessy (0-2-2) in posting multiple assists for the Senators, and goaltender Mike Brodeur secured the win with 39 saves in net.
The Admirals, who are two points back of Bridgeport and three back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for playoff spots in the East, received goals from Matt Lashoff, Mark Parrish, and Matt Fornataro in the losing effort.
PEORIA 4, LAKE ERIE 2
Peoria kept pace with Milwaukee in the West Division playoff race by doubling up visiting Lake Erie by a 4-2 count on Saturday before 6,160 fans at Carver Arena, marking the Rivermen’s regular-season home finale.
The Rivermen remain three points back of the Admirals for the West’s fourth and final playoff spot, and the two teams will collide on Tuesday afternoon in Milwaukee.
Derek Armstrong tallied Peoria’s eventual game-winning goal on the power play with 4:33 to go in regulation on Saturday, and the Rivermen also got goals from defenseman Nate Guenin (1-1-2), Chris Porter, and Cam Paddock, who scored into an empty net.
Paddock now has a goal in his last six games (6-1-7).
Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop only had to make 19 saves on 21 shots to pick up the victory in goal.
MILWAUKEE 4, ROCKFORD 0
Mark Dekanich made 29 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as Milwaukee secured a 4-0 road win over Rockford before 5,951 fans at the MetroCentre on Saturday.
Dekanich earned his first shutout since Feb. 28 and improved to 25-16-4 this season for the Admirals, who maintained a three-point edge on Peoria for the West Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.
Defenseman Teemu Laakso chipped in three assists for Milwaukee, which finished 6-4-0-0 in its regular season series against Rockford.
The IceHogs, who clinched their third straight Calder Cup Playoff berth on Friday, were shut out for the third time in their last five games.
SAN ANTONIO 3, CHICAGO 0
San Antonio kept its faint playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 shutout of first-place Chicago on Saturday before 7,819 fans at the AT&T Center.
The Rampage trail fourth-place Milwaukee by seven points with four games to play, and Peoria sits between the two clubs at three points back of Milwaukee.
The Wolves, who have already wrapped up the West Division title, have now dropped consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 13 and 18.
HOUSTON 3, TEXAS 2
Robbie Earl tallied a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as Houston eked out a 3-2 road win over Texas on Saturday at the Cedar Park Center.
Earl gave the Aeros a 2-1 lead midway through the second period and then extended the advantage to 3-1 with a power play strike 2:02 into the third frame.
Earl’s second goal proved to be the game-winner when Texas rookie Travis Morin potted his 21st goal of the season at 5:31 of the third period. The Stars could not get the equalizer and saw its five-game winning streak come to an end.
Stars defenseman Andy Hutchinson added a power play goal in the losing effort.
ABBOTSFORD 2, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Abbotsford brought a 2-0 lead into the third period and held on for a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids at the Entertainment & Sports Centre, earning the Heat a sweep of the teams’ two-game weekend set.
The Heat, who are bound for the playoffs in their inaugural season, avenged a pair of losses in Grand Rapids on Oct. 23 and 25, which occurred by a combined score of 11-4.
Abbotsford captured its third straight win overall and salvaged a 3-3-0-0 homestand after losing the first three contests. The Heat will wrap up their regular season next week with a pair of games at Lake Erie and one in Toronto.
Veteran forward Brad May scored for the Griffins, who are winless in four straight games (0-3-0-1) and will miss the playoffs for the second time in the last three years.