WORCESTER 2, PORTLAND 1
Worcester punched its ticket to the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday with its fifth consecutive victory, a 2-1 decision over Portland at the DCU Center. Captain Ryan Vesce and Dan DaSilva netted goals for the Sharks, and goaltender Thomas Greiss made 24 saves on 25 shots.
Vesce opened the game’s scoring with his 24th goal of the season 6:53 into the first period. Patrick Traverse and Tom Cavanagh picked up assists on Vesce’s team-leading 70th point of the campaign (24-46-70).
Worcester grabbed the lead for good when DaSilva slapped home the rebound of a Steven Zalewski shot at the 3:18 mark.
Greiss (29-23-2) has been between the pipes for all five victories during Worcester’s current streak, which matches a Sharks season high previously attained from Nov. 16-28.
Worcester is set to return to postseason action for the first time since 2007 and will square off with either Hartford or Providence in the Atlantic Division semifinals.
With Manchester’s loss to Hartford, Portland’s magic number to clinch the Atlantic’s fourth and final entry was reduced to one.
HARTFORD 4, MANCHESTER 3
Mark Bell’s shorthanded goal with 20.2 seconds left in regulation lifted Hartford to a 4-3 road win over Manchester at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Patrick Rissmiller assisted on Bell’s game-winner and scored a goal of his own, while the Wolf Pack also received tallies from Mike Ouellette and Artem Anisimov. Hartford remained two points up on Providence for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Hartford rookie goaltender Matt Zaba earned the win with 28 saves in net, improving his season record to 24-10-0.
David Meckler (1-1-2), Gabe Gauthier, and Matt Moulson netted goals for the Monarchs, whose playoff hopes took a big hit. Manchester will need two wins and two Portland regulation losses in the final weekend to earn its eighth straight postseason berth.
ALBANY 4, PHILADELPHIA 3 (SO)
Albany was denied on its first four shootout tries but then scored five times in a row to skate off with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Times Union Center.
Jonathan Paiement – playing his first game since Albany’s bus accident on Feb. 19 – scored twice in the shootout, and the Rats also got successful tries from Bryan Rodney, Yannick Tifu, and Jakub Petruzalek.
River Rats goaltender Justin Peters stopped five of nine in the shootout after making 39 saves through the first 65 minutes.
Tifu, Petruzalek, and Cory Quirk all netted regulation goals for the River Rats, who snapped an eight-game winless skid (0-7-0-1).
James van Riemsdyk scored his first pro goal for the Phantoms, and Oskars Bartulis and Jonathon Kalinski also netted goals in regulation. Philadelphia (91 points) is now tied with Binghamton for the East Division’s final playoff spot.
BINGHAMTON 4, SYRACUSE 3 (OT)
Binghamton rookie Zack Smith tied the game at 19:56 of the third period, and Peter Regin scored just 32 seconds into overtime to give the Senators an improbable 4-3 triumph over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Goaltender Jeff Glass made 26 saves in net for the Senators, who pulled into a tie with Philadelphia for the East Division’s final postseason berth.
The Crunch remain one point back of Toronto for the North Division’s last entry.
ROCHESTER 5, TORONTO 4 (OT)
Randall Gelech scored at 1:53 of overtime as Rochester emerged with a 5-4 road win over Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Amerks, in last place and trying to play the spoiler role, took leads of 2-1 and 4-3 on the night before finally capturing the extra point in overtime.
Karl Stewart scored twice for Rochester, Drew Larman had a goal and a helper, and Kenndal McArdle also found the back of the net. Defenseman Keaton Ellerby chipped in two assists, and goaltender David Shantz stopped 27 shots in the winning effort.
Toronto is still one point up on Syracuse for fourth place in the North Division with two games to play.
PROVIDENCE 5, LOWELL 2
Five players scored as Providence kept its Atlantic Division title hopes alive with a 5-2 road win over Lowell at Tsongas Arena.
Jonathan Tremblay scored his first career AHL goal for the Bruins, Ryan Stokes scored his first of the season, and Providence also received markers from Vladimir Sobotka, captain Jeremy Reich, and rookie Mikko Lehtonen.
NORFOLK 4, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 3 (OT)
Radek Smolenak’s goal 3:52 into overtime lifted Norfolk to a 4-3 road win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the Wachovia Arena on Wednesday.
But the Penguins battled back on power play goals from Janne Pesonen, his 30th of the season, and Jeff Taffe. Miroslav Satan also scored for the Pens, and defenseman Alex Goligoski assisted on all three markers.
With the standings point gained, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton clinched its league-record fourth straight 100-point season.
HAMILTON 6, MANITOBA 2
Hamilton moved back into a tie for second place in the North Division with a 6-2 win over division-leading Manitoba at Copps Coliseum.
Ryan Russell (2-0-2), Yanick Lehoux (1-1-2), Max Pacioretty (0-3-3), Ben Maxwell (0-2-2), and Kyle Chipchura (0-2-2) all had multiple points on the night for the Bulldogs. Chad Anderson, Mike Glumac, and Brock Trotter added goals in the victory.
Bulldogs goaltender Marc Denis earned the win with 23 saves on 25 shots. Hamilton (47-27-4-0) captured its third straight win and is tied with Grand Rapids for second place but holds four more victories than the Griffins.
Milwaukee goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 37 of 38 shots through the first 65 minutes before enjoying a perfect shootout. MacIntyre is now 33-15-4 for the campaign.
QUAD CITY 5, ROCKFORD 2
Quad City kept its playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 win over visiting Rockford on Wednesday at the I Wireless Center.
The Flames (81 points) closed within three points of both the IceHogs and Houston entering the season’s final weekend. Quad City will still need a pair of wins, and either Rockford or Houston to lose out in regulation, to qualify.
Dustin Boyd (even strength), Brett Sutter (shorthanded), and Kyle Greentree (power play) all netted first-period goals for Quad City. Sutter and Brad Cole added shorthanded empty-netters in the closing minute.
Flames rookie goaltender Leland Irving stopped 19 of 21 shots in the winning effort.
CHICAGO 5, LAKE ERIE 0
Chicago’s offense came to life on Wednesday in a 5-0 win over visiting Lake Erie at Allstate Arena.
Former second-round draft pick Andrew Kozek netted his first two professional goals for the Wolves, who also received markers from Joe Motzko, Grant Stevenson, and Mike Hamilton. Matt Anderson (0-3-3) and Arturs Kulda (0-2-2) each posted multiple assists.
The Wolves snapped a four-game losing skid in which they had totaled only five goals.
Chicago goaltender Brent Krahn stopped all 17 shots he faced to record his second shutout in 11 appearances for the Wolves this season (5-5-0).