WORCESTER 5, BRIDGEPORT 3
Coming off three straight losses in which it totaled one goal, Worcester scored four times in the first period en route to a 5-3 road win over Eastern Conference-leading Bridgeport on Tuesday.
Rookie P.J. Fenton registered a pair of goals for the Sharks, who moved into a tie for fourth place in the Atlantic Division and concluded a stretch of four road games in a five-day span.
Rookies accounted for all five Worcester tallies on the night. Steven Zalewski opened the scoring exactly two minutes into the game, netting the Sharks’ first goal in more than two games since Riley Armstrong lit the lamp early in the third period against the Sound Tigers on Friday.
Fenton extended the lead to 2-0 with a power play tally 1:13 later, and after Bridgeport’s Jesse Joensuu cut the deficit in half, Matt Fornataro and Fenton netted goals to make it a 4-1 contest at intermission. Andrew Desjardins tacked on a marker late in the second period for Worcester.
Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss made a season-high 47 saves on 50 shots in the victory, his highest total since a 51-save effort against Hartford on Apr. 6, 2007. Greiss stopped 21 of 22 shots in the third period alone on Tuesday and improved to 23-22-2 on the season.
The victory lifted Worcester into a fourth-place tie with Portland in the Atlantic Division playoff chase, as both teams show 73 points.
HAMILTON 6, SAN ANTONIO 1
Rookie Ben Maxwell registered his first professional hat trick as part of Hamilton’s 6-1 win over visiting San Antonio at Copps Coliseum.
Fellow rookie Max Pacioretty, reassigned by parent-club Montreal on Monday, netted a goal and added two assists in his first game for the Bulldogs since Dec. 30. Ryan Russell posted a goal and a helper for Hamilton, and defenseman J.T. Watt also scored.
The win brought Hamilton (44-26-3-0, 91 points) within three points of Grand Rapids for second place in the North Division, though the Griffins have played two fewer games.
MANCHESTER 3, LOWELL 0
Manchester snapped out of a five-game winless skid (0-3-0-2) on Tuesday with a 3-0 road win over Lowell at Tsongas Arena.
Rookie Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 18 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season and even his season record at 20-20-4.
The victory lifted the Monarchs (34-29-0-8, 76 points) three points up on Portland and Worcester for third place in the Atlantic Division race.
PEORIA 3, IOWA 2
Peoria moved back into sole possession of third place in the West Division with a 3-2 road triumph over Iowa on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Rivermen (37-31-2-2, 78 points) now sit two points up on Rockford for the third spot and are just one point back of Houston for second place in the crowded field.
Steve Regier broke a 2-2 tie at 3:32 of the third period, and his 18th goal of the season proved to be the game-winner for Peoria. Cam Paddock and Yan Stastny also scored in the victory, and goaltender Manny Legace earned the win with 27 saves on 29 shots.
SYRACUSE 2, MANITOBA 1
Syracuse rallied for a key 2-1 road win over league-leading Manitoba on Tuesday in the opener of the division rivals’ two-game set at the MTS Centre.
Rookie forward Maksim Mayorov scored both goals for the Crunch, including the game-winner to break a 1-1 tie at 9:53 of the third period. Fellow first-year pro Nikita Filatov assisted on both markers.
Crunch goaltender Kevin Lalande made 29 saves and improved to 10-2-1 in the AHL this season, including a 6-1-0 mark since joining Syracuse.
With their sixth win in seven games (6-1-0-0), the Crunch closed to within one point of idle Toronto for the final possible playoff spot in the North Division. Both teams have nine games to play.
Dusty Collins initially gave the Moose a 1-0 lead with his 10th goal of the season a minute into the second period. Manitoba will host Syracuse in a rematch on Wednesday night.