ROCHESTER 1, TORONTO 0
Mike York scored the game’s only goal midway through the first period, and Rochester goaltender Tyler Plante’s 40-save shutout made it stand up as the Amerks earned a 1-0 road win over Toronto on Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum.
Rochester has now won three straight games for the first time since Jan. 10-16 and shows a 5-1-0-0 mark in its last six outings.
York has now collected 11 points (4-7-11) in eight games since returning to the lineup following a 33-game injury absence.
Plante (6-8-0) halted a personal three-game losing skid and secured his second shutout of the season.
The Marlies suffered their second straight shutout and have lost three consecutive games overall.
HERSHEY 4, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 0
Hershey became the first AHL team to punch its ticket to the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before a sellout crowd of 10,752 fans at the Giant Center.
Long a foregone conclusion for the league-leading Bears (48-12-0-2, 98 points), the playoff berth comes with 18 games still to play in the regular season.
The Bears, who won the 2009 Calder Cup title, become the first defending champion to reach the postseason the following year since they made it in 2007 after winning the 2006 championship.
With the victory, Hershey extended its AHL-record home winning streak to 22 consecutive games.
Aucoin and Gordon both tallied their 30th goals of the season, while Giroux notched his 33rd. Only two other players in the entire AHL – Chicago’s Brett Sterling (34) and Albany’s Jerome Samson (30) – have reached the 30-goal plateau thus far.
Bears rookie goaltender Braden Holtby (19-5-1) turned aside all 25 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season and first since a 38-save blanking of the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre back on Oct. 9.
The Penguins dropped two points back of Bridgeport for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
BINGHAMTON 1, ADIRONDACK 0
Binghamton goaltender Chris Holt turned aside 25 shots for his fourth shutout of the season as the Senators earned a 1-0 road win over Adirondack at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Holt, who has collected four of his 11 wins this season (11-11-1) via the shutout, stopped six shots in the first period, 10 in the second, and nine in the third on Saturday.
Binghamton has now won three straight games for the first time all season and will go four a fourth consecutive win when it returns home to play Syracuse on Sunday.
The Phantoms, who were blanked for the seventh time this season, dropped their third straight game and fell to 2-6-0-0 in their last eight contests.
BRIDGEPORT 4, PROVIDENCE 1
Ex-Bruin Jeremy Reich notched two goals and an assist as Bridgeport took a 4-1 win over visiting Providence before 6,816 fans at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday night.
Reich, who notched a career-high 21 goals for Providence last season, tied the game at 4:37 of the first period after Zach Hamill had given the Bruins a 1-0 lead 56 seconds into the contest.
Reich then assisted on Sean Bentivoglio’s eventual game-winning goal on the power play at 16:55 of the opening period and then provided insurance 11:07 into the second frame.
Bentivoglio added another goal late in the second, and defenseman Mark Wotton chipped in two assists on the night.
Sound Tigers goaltender Scott Munroe earned the win with 28 saves in net, as Bridgeport moved two points up on Providence and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason entry.
MANITOBA 2, GRAND RAPIDS 1 (OT)
Mario Bliznak’s goal 3:55 into overtime lifted Manitoba to a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids on Saturday before 10,834 fans at Van Andel Arena.
The Moose earned a split of the teams’ two-game weekend set and moved five points up on Lake Erie for the North Division’s fourth and final postseason spot.
Rookie forward Sergei Shirokov notched his 20th goal of the season to give Manitoba a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, and it remained a 1-0 game until the Griffins’ Justin Abdelkader tallied the equalizer just 20 seconds into the third frame.
Moose goaltender Cory Schneider (27-19-1) earned the victory with a season-high 42 saves on 43 shots between the pipes.
HAMILTON 3, HARTFORD 2 (SO)
Hamilton goaltender Cedrick Desjardins turned aside all four of Hartford’s shootout attempts as the Bulldogs pulled out a 3-2 win over the Wolf Pack on Saturday at Copps Coliseum.
Defenseman P.K. Subban and team leading scorer Brock Trotter converted in the first two rounds for Hamilton, while Desjardins stymied ex-Bulldog Corey Locke, Dale Weise, Kris Newbury, and Evgeny Grachev.
Ryan White and Grant Stevenson notched regulation goals for the Bulldogs, who built a 2-0 lead after the first period. But Hartford responded with a pair of second-period markers, as Jared Nightingale and Weise found the back of the net.
Hamilton captured its eighth straight victory and now holds an 18-point over Rochester and Abbotsford atop the North Division.
The Wolf Pack, in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in team history, are 1-7-2-1 in their last 11 outings and sit five points back of Bridgeport for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason spot.
SPRINGFIELD 7, LOWELL 5
Springfield’s dormant offense came to life on Saturday with a season-high seven goals en route to a 7-5 win over visiting Lowell at the MassMutual Center.
The Falcons entered the night tied for last in the AHL with an average of 2.40 goals per game, but they topped that with three goals in the first period alone.
Former Devils Chris Minard and Chad Wiseman each scored twice for Springfield, while Colin McDonald (1-1-2), Ryan MacMurchy (1-1-2), and Viacheslav Trukhno rounded out the offense. Charles Linglet (0-3-3) and Colton Fretter (0-2-2) each chipped in two assists in the winning effort.
The Falcons finished 2-for-3 on the power play and produced their highest goal output since a 7-6 win over Norfolk on Nov. 21, 2008.
Springfield goaltender Bryan Pitton made 37 saves in the victory, which improved the Falcons to 3-1-0-0 in their last four outings.
ALBANY 4, NORFOLK 2
Jerome Samson scored twice and added an assist as Albany doubled up host Norfolk by a 4-2 count at the Scope on Saturday.
The victory allowed the River Rats to head home with a two-game split from the Admirals and a three-point edge on Norfolk for second place in the East Division race.
Samson notched his 29th and 30th goals of the season, and he now shows a point in nine of his last 10 games overall (9-7-16).
Goaltender Justin Pogge turned aside 29 of 31 shots to pick up his first win as a member of the River Rats.
SYRACUSE 4, PORTLAND 3
Syracuse built a 4-0 lead heading into the third period and then had to hold on for a 4-3 win over visiting Portland before 5,526 fans at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Defenseman Brendan Bell tallied a pair of goals for the Crunch, scoring once apiece in the first and second periods. Syracuse forwards Nick Holden and Jared Aulin also scored, and Trevor Frischmon chipped in two assists.
The Crunch, who came into the night 16-0-1-1 when taking a lead into the third period, needed every one of their four goals to come away with the victory in this one.
Pirates defenseman Mike Weber put his team on the board with a power play goal at the 9:33 mark. Philip Gogulla cut Portland’s deficit to 4-2 at 17:45 and then made it a one-goal game just 1:07 later.
But Portland could not get the equalizer in the final minute of regulation and dropped to 2-4-0-0 in its last six contests.
Crunch goaltender Kevin Lalande held on for the win, stopping 31 of 34 shots on the night. Syracuse is 5-2-0-0 in its last seven outings, a stretch which began with a 2-1 win over Binghamton in the Mirabito Outdoor Classic on Feb 20.
CHICAGO 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy broke a 1-1 tie at 7:25 of the third period, and Chicago held on for a 2-1 win over visiting Milwaukee before 13,024 fans at Allstate Arena.
Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino turned aside 23 of 24 shots to pick up the victory, which extended the Wolves’ points streak to five games (3-0-1-1).
Milwaukee has totaled seven goals in three games (1-1-0-1) since posting a 7-6 overtime win over Chicago on Feb. 27.
PEORIA 3, LAKE ERIE 1
Peoria sent its franchise-record crowd home happy on Saturday, as the Rivermen earned a 3-1 win over Lake Erie before 10,129 fans at Carver Arena.
All-Star rookie forward Lars Eller had a hand in all three goals for the Rivermen, scoring one and assisting on two others.
Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 22 of 23 shots in the winning effort, as the Rivermen improved to 4-1-0-1 in their last six outings.
Justin Mercier notched the lone goal for the Monsters, who fell five points back of victorious Manitoba for the North Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.
ROCKFORD 4, SAN ANTONIO 1
Rockford raced out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and never looked back en route to a 4-1 road win over San Antonio before 8,083 fans at the AT&T Center on Saturday.
The IceHogs extended their points streak to three games (2-0-1-0) and remained five points back of Chicago for first place in the West Division. However, Rockford has played three more games than the Wolves.
Captain Jeff Hoggan scored for the Rampage, who have managed just two goals in dropping their last two games.
San Antonio will look for revenge when the teams square off in a rematch on Sunday.
TEXAS 4, HOUSTON 3
Rookie forward Colton Sceviour snapped a 3-3 tie at 14:19 of the third period as Texas eked out a 4-3 win over visiting Houston on Saturday before 6,110 fans at the Cedar Park Center.
Sceviour broke a personal 27-game scoring drought with the goal, finding the back of the net for the first time since a 3-2 loss at Manitoba on Dec. 31. His game-winner was assisted by defenseman Matt Stephenson.
Texas goaltender Matt Climie turned aside 25 of 28 shots in the winning effort, helping the Stars move to 4-1-0-0 in their last five contests.
WORCESTER 2, ABBOTSFORD 1
Dan DaSilva’s power play goal with 3:28 to play in regulation broke a 1-1 tie and lifted Worcester to a 2-1 win over Abbotsford at the Entertainment & Sports Centre on Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, Dwight Helminen put the Sharks on the board with only 14 seconds left in the second frame. But Heat forward Jason Jaffray’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season – also on the power play – tied it up 8:31 into the third period.
Worcester finished its four-game Western Canada road trip at 2-2-0-0 and moved three points up on Portland for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Heat, who had last dropped a game in regulation on Feb. 19 in Providence, saw their eight-game points streak (6-0-0-2) come to an end.