GRAND RAPIDS 5, ROCHESTER 2
Francis Pare’s first career hat trick led Grand Rapids to a 5-2 win over Rochester on Saturday and a sweep of their crucial two-game set at Van Andel Arena.
A near-capacity crowd of 10,058 saw the Griffins extend their season-high home winning and point streaks to four and six games (5-0-0-1), respectively, and improve to 6-1-0-2 in their last nine games overall. As a result, they’ve pulled within five points of a guaranteed playoff berth in an ever-tightening North Division race.
The Griffins have won five of their last six and claimed their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-11, 2009 – a span of 118 games.
Grand Rapids grabbed the lone goal of the opening period at the 4:56 mark. Brendan Smith’s slap shot from the point was redirected by Joakim Andersson right to the stick of Pare, who pushed the puck into a wide-open cage from the doorstep.
Sprung on a breakaway by an outlet pass from Smith, Pare skated in alone on Tyler Plante and deked to his backhand before lifting a shot over the netminder’s glove at 7:41.
Former Griffin Mark Cullen answered for the Amerks less than two minutes later, picking up a loose puck to the right of the cage and stuffing it past Pearce from close range at 9:22.
Pare completed the hat trick with 31 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-2, one-timing Andersson’s pass into the back of the net from the right circle.
Chris Minard provided breathing room by scoring from the slot with 3:02 left in the third, giving him goals in three straight games and six of the last seven contests, before Tomas Tatar tallied into an empty net at 19:16 for the final margin.
Pearce, now 10-3-4 in his last 17 decisions, made 27 stops in the win, while Plante turned aside 37 in defeat.
TORONTO 2, HAMILTON 0
Greg Scott snapped a scoreless tie with 4:27 left in regulation and tacked on an empty-net insurance goal to give Toronto a 2-0 win over Hamilton in a key North Division battle at Copps Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Attendance for the front end of the home-and-home set between the rivals was 8,693. The clubs meet again on Sunday at 1 ET in a game that will air live on CBC in Canada and on delay (3:30 ET) on NHL Network in the U.S.
Ben Scrivens made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season. The rookie out of Cornell improved to 9-5-3 in 20 appearances for the Marlies this year.
The win kept the Marlies two points out of first place in the North Division, tied with Hamilton and Lake Erie behind Manitoba.
On the winning goal, Scott intercepted a loose puck in front of the Hamilton net before using a forehand-to-backhand move and sliding the puck behind Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre and into the net.
MacIntyre stopped 21 of 22 shots for the Bulldogs, who were shut out for the third time this season.
MANITOBA 4, MILWAUKEE 2
Guillaume Desbiens, Sergei Shirokov and Cody Hodgson notched a goal and an assist apiece to help Manitoba to a 4-2 win at Milwaukee and sole possession of first place in the North Division.
Defenseman Yann Sauve, Vancouver’s second-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft, scored his first professional goal for the Moose and Tyler Weiman made 30 saves on the night as Manitoba won its third in a row and fifth in seven outings.
ROCKFORD 3, LAKE ERIE 2
Hannu Toivonen and the Rockford IceHogs held on to knock off Lake Erie, 3-2, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday night.
With Rockford up a goal late in period three, Lake Erie made one last attempt to tie the game when Greg Mauldin’s point shot was redirected into Toivonen who made the save as time expired. Overall, Rockford’s puck stopper made 36 total saves to earn the win.
For the second straight game rookie winger Ben Smith found the scoresheet. Smith picked up a Rob Klinkhammer pass in the slot and fired home his 11th goal of the season 2:25 into the opening period to start the scoring.
Klinkhammer then extended Rockford’s lead to 2-0 in the second period while shorthanded, carrying the puck over the Monsters line from the left wing and sniping his 12th marker of the season under the crossbar at 2:01.
A nice individual effort by Justin Mercier put Lake Erie on the board midway through the second period. Mercier outworked three IceHogs skaters in front of Toivonen and flipped in his own rebound at 10:11 for his 10th goal of the season making it 2-1 Rockford.
The Monsters outworked Rockford again in front of their own goal to tie the game later in the second frame. Mauldin’s initial shot was turned away by Toivonen but David Van der Gulik split a pair of ’Hogs skaters and swiped in his tenth goal of the season at 17:23.
Evan Brophey put Rockford back on top early in the third period. On a two-on-one rush, Brophey held the puck and picked the top corner over the right should of Jason Bacashihua at 1:59 for the eventual game-winner.
PEORIA 6, CHICAGO 5 (SO)
Defenseman Derek Peltier had a goal and an assist in regulation and scored the winning goal on his first career shootout attempt as Peoria got past Chicago, 6-5, on Saturday night.
It was the third of five meetings between the teams in a 14-day span that began last Saturday.
Chris Langkow scored a goal in his AHL debut for the Rivermen, who also got goals from Graham Mink, Dave Spina and former Chicago defenseman Nathan Oystrick. Thirteen different Peoria skaters recorded at least one point.
Jake Allen stopped 24 of 29 shots for the Rivermen, then held Chicago to 1-for-5 in the shootout.
Peter Mannino finished with 32 saves for the Wolves.
TEXAS 3, HOUSTON 1
Brandon Segal scored the game-winning goal and added an assist to lead Texas to a 3-1 win over Houston in front of 6,544 fans at Cedar Park Center on Saturday.
Aaron Gagnon and Philip Larsen each tallied two assists on the night as Texas ended a six-game losing skid to Houston. Stars goalie Tyler Beskorowany (6-5-1) stopped 29 shots and Maxime Fortunus and Greg Rallo also scored to help Texas pull within two points of second place in the West Division.
OKLAHOMA CITY 2, ABBOTSFORD 1 (OT)
Colten Teubert scored with 17.1 seconds left in regulation and Brad Moran struck at 3:37 of overtime as Oklahoma City came to life and pulled out a 2-1 win over visiting Abbotsford on Saturday.
The Barons were on the verge of being shut out by Heat goaltender Leland Irving when Teubert threw a shot on net that found its way in. It was Teubert’s second goal in as many games since joining Oklahoma City; he had two goals in 39 games with Manchester to start the year before being acquired by the Edmonton Oilers this week.
Martin Gerber made 22 saves to give the Barons a split of the Heat’s two-game visit to the Cox Convention Center. Oklahoma City has still not lost back-to-back games in regulation since Jan. 2-7.
Lance Bouma scored the only goal for Abbotsford. Irving wound up with 35 saves in the loss.
WORCESTER 2, CHARLOTTE 0
Daren Machesney made 14 of his 34 saves in the third period and earned his second win and second shutout of the AHL season as Worcester defeated Charlotte, 2-0, at the DCU Center on Saturday night.
Kevin Henderson tipped home a Sean Sullivan shot at 12:15 of the first period to give the Sharks all the offense they would need, and Tommy Wingels found the empty net with 1:08 remaining in regulation to secure the win as Worcester improved to 6-1-1-2 in its last 10 home games.
Machesney, now 2-2-1 in six appearances between Worcester and Springfield this season, denied former Hershey teammate Oskar Osala on a breakaway with exactly two minutes left in the third period, then held off several Checkers chances in the final minute to post his sixth career AHL shutout.
Mike Murphy, who entered the weekend with an 8-0-1 mark in his previous nine decisions, took his second consecutive loss despite stopping 28 of 29 shots for Charlotte.
HERSHEY 3, NORFOLK 2
Mathieu Perreault’s goal with 2:52 left in the third period snapped a 2-all tie and gave Hershey a 3-2 victory over visiting Norfolk in front of 10,616 fans at Giant Center on Saturday.
Perreault’s goal gives him 26 points (9g, 17a) in 20 AHL games this season, to go along with 14 points (7g, 7a) in 35 NHL games with Washington.
The victory puts the Bears six points behind first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the East Division. The Admirals remain fourth, one point behind Charlotte.
PORTLAND 8, BRIDGEPORT 3
Without leading scorer Mark Mancari in the lineup, the Portland Pirates got two goals apiece from Luke Adam, Paul Byron, Colin Stuart and rolled to an 8-3 win over Bridgeport at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Mancari, who was recalled by the parent Buffalo Sabres prior to the game, entered the day second in the AHL with 32 goals and third with 64 points for the Pirates.
The game was tied at 1-1 midway through the second period before Portland scored seven times in a 21-minute span, beginning with goals 12 seconds apart by Byron and Adam.
CONNECTICUT 2, SPRINGFIELD 1 (OT)
Blake Parlett’s first career AHL goal came with 27.5 seconds left in overtime and gave Connecticut a big 2-1 win in Springfield before 6,486 fans at the MassMutual Center, the largest crowd for a Falcons home game in more than two years.
With the win, the Whale remained tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with Worcester, and opened up a three-point lead over the fifth-place Falcons.
After Springfield took just two shots on goal in the first period, the Falcons got on the board first when Brent Regner converted on a power play 49 seconds into the middle frame.
The lead held up until Kris Newbury, back from a stint with the parent New York Rangers, scored with 6:31 to go in regulation.
SYRACUSE 4, SAN ANTONIO 1
Ray Emery made 40 saves to backstop Syracuse to a 4-1 win over San Antonio at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.
The Crunch were the first to jump on the scoreboard as they took a 1-0 lead 3:48 after the initial puck drop. A Rampage turnover at the blue line gave left wing John Mitchell possession of the puck where he skated to the crease and flipped a shot over the glove of Rampage goaltender Matt Climie.
Just 16 seconds later, the Rampage evened the score at 1-1 after Matt Pope and David Brine assisted on Nolan Yonkman’s first goal of the season. Yonkman fired a shot from the blue line that went through traffic and beat Emery low stick side.
Syracuse claimed a 2-1 advantage nine seconds into a power play, as Nick Bonino snapped a shot from the left wing boards that was redirected by right wing Brian McGrattan to the low glove side of Climie 12:27 into the second period.
The Crunch extended their lead to 3-1 when left wing John Kurtz skated to the bottom of the left faceoff circle and sent the puck over the right shoulder of Climie as it hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced across the goal line at the 13:45 mark of the middle stanza.
San Antonio head coach Ray Edwards pulled Climie in favor of a sixth attacker with 1:30 remaining in the contest, however, Syracuse center Maxime Macenauer scored on the empty net to finalize the Crunch victory at 4-1.
ALBANY 5, ADIRONDACK 2
Alexander Vasyunov scored twice in the third period and added an assist for a three-point night as Albany defeated Adirondack, 5-2, at the Times Union Center on Saturday evening.
With the win, the Devils (4-2-0-1) took the lead over the Phantoms (3-2-1-1) in the season series between the Northway rivals.
Matt Anderson, Alexander Urbom and Steve Zalewski each had a goal and an assist for Albany, and Mike McKenna made 20 saves to snap a personal six-game losing streak and earn his first victory since Jan. 25.
Eric Wellwood and Mike Testwuide scored for the Phantoms, who lost in regulation for just the second time in their last 11 games overall (5-2-1-3) and just the third time in their last 13 road contests (7-3-0-3).