TORONTO 4, HAMILTON 3 (SO)
Defenseman Keith Aulie tallied a pair of goals in regulation – including the tying marker midway through the second period – and Toronto went on to post a 4-3 shootout win over visiting Hamilton on Sunday at Ricoh Coliseum.
Aulie entered the afternoon having totaled one goal in 17 games for the Marlies this season while going scoreless in his first 12 career NHL matches with the Maple Leafs.
But the 21-year-old second-year-pro snapped his drought with the game’s first goal at 9:31 of the opening period. Hamilton registered three of the next four scores to grab a 3-2 lead until Aulie tied it back up at 10:58 of the second frame. Neither side scored the rest of the way.
The teams played a scoreless overtime, and goaltenders ruled the shootout until Toronto’s Joey Crabb finally beat Hamilton’s Curtis Sanford in the sixth round. Marlies netminder Jussi Rynnas, who made 28 saves on the afternoon, then denied Andreas Engqvist to end it.
Mike Zigomanis also scored in regulation for the Marlies, who improved to 17-13-0-4 on the season and closed to within five points of Hamilton for first place in the North Division.
CONNECTICUT 4, BRIDGEPORT 0
Chad Kolarik scored twice and goaltender Chad Johnson made 22 saves for his first shutout of the season as Connecticut collected a 4-0 road win over Bridgeport on Sunday at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Johnson, who had three shutouts as a rookie in the AHL last season, made nine saves in the first period, five in the second frame, and eight more in the third, improving to 10-11-3 on the campaign.
Connecticut finished 3-for-6 on the man advantage and improved to 4-1-0-1 against Bridgeport this season.
The Sound Tigers’ brief two-game winning streak came to an end.
SPRINGFIELD 5, PROVIDENCE 2
Former first-round draft pick Nikita Filatov netted his first goal of the season and added an assist as Springfield dumped visiting Providence by a 5-2 count at the MassMutual Center.
Filatov, drafted sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008, scored in the second period for his first AHL marker since recording a pair of goals for Syracuse on Mar. 23, 2009 at Toronto.
The Falcons improved to 3-1-0-0 in their last four games and moved back to the .500 mark overall at 15-15-1-1 (32 points).
Springfield goaltender David LeNeveu only had to make 15 saves in the winning effort as his team held a 25-17 shots advantage, including 11-2 in the second period alone.
GRAND RAPIDS 5, LAKE ERIE 3
Grand Rapids scored four times in the third period and emerged with a 5-3 victory over visiting Lake Erie before 8,973 fans at Van Andel Arena on Sunday.
David Van der Gulik cut the Monsters’ deficit in half at 10:38, only to see Joakim Andersoon restore the Griffins’ two-goal edge just 21 seconds later. Ilari Filppula added an empty-net marker at 18:19, and Lake Erie’s Ryan Stoa closed the game’s scoring at the 19:25 mark.
Defenseman Travis Ehrhardt joined Filppula and Tatar in recording a goal and an assist for the Griffins; Jordan Owens and Jan Mursak each had two helpers; and goaltender Joey MacDonald stopped 31 of 34 shots in net.
Grand Rapids improved to 4-2-0-0 in its last six games and moved back over the .500 mark overall at 15-14-1-4.
The Monsters are now winless in four straight games (0-3-1-0) and have just one victory in their last nine outings (1-5-1-2).
HERSHEY 3, NORFOLK 1
Keith Aucoin snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal at 5:20 of the third period, and Hershey went on to post a 3-1 win over visiting Norfolk in front of 8,608 fans at the Giant Center on Sunday.
Aucoin’s marker was assisted by Brian Fahey and Steve Pinizzotto, who then sealed the victory with a late empty-netter. Prior to picking up his eighth goal of the season, Aucoin earned an assist on a first-period marker by Bears defenseman Zach Miskovic.
Goaltender Braden Holtby (8-3-1) turned aside 31 of 32 shots for the Bears, who improved to 6-3-0-0 in their last nine contests.
Chris Durno registered the Admirals’ lone goal at 7:19 of the second period, as Norfolk’s eight-game points streak (6-0-2-0) came to an end.
The Admirals suffered their first regulation loss in nearly a month, since a 3-0 setback at Bridgeport back on Nov. 28.
BINGHAMTON 7, ADIRONDACK 1
Binghamton jumped out to a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes and cruised from there to a 7-1 triumph over visiting Adirondack at the Broome County Arena on Sunday.
The surging Senators improved to 5-1-0-1 in their last seven contests and remained three points back of Hershey – which also won on Sunday – for fourth place in the East Division race.
Zack Smith scored twice and was the only member of the Senators to register multiple goals on the afternoon. Erik Condra, Kaspars Daugavins, and rookies Bobby Butler and Colin Greening all tallied a goal and an assist, while defenseman David Hale rounded out the offense.
Binghamton (15-13-2-2) reached the seven-goal plateau for the second time in its last four games and for the third time overall this season, two of which have come at Adirondack’s expense.
Rookie Ben Holmstrom notched the Phantoms’ lone goal of the afternoon, as Adirondack’s brief two-game winning streak came to an end.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 5, ALBANY 4
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton converted three of its four shootout tries and held off visiting Albany by a 5-4 final on Sunday before 7,161 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improved its league-best record to 24-7-0-0 (48 points).
Defenseman Rob Davison and Dan Kelly each scored his first goal of the season for Albany, and forwards Nick Palmieri and Michael Swift also scored. The Devils are now 1-4-0-1 in their last six outings.
ROCHESTER 5, SYRACUSE 2
Rochester climbed out of last place in the North Division standings with a 5-2 win over in-state rival Syracuse on Sunday at the Blue Cross Arena.
The Americans improved to 15-15-2-1 (33 points) for the year, percentage points ahead of Lake Erie for sixth place and just three points back of Abbotsford for third in the tight North race.
HOUSTON 4, TEXAS 3 (SO)
Texas forward Francis Wathier tied the game with just 19 seconds left in regulation, but Houston ended up taking a 4-3 shootout decision from the Stars on Sunday at the Toyota Center.
Robbie Earl and Chad Rau netted shootout goals for the Aeros before Cody Almond clinched the victory with his seventh-round conversion. Houston rookie netminder Matt Hackett stopped five of Texas’ seven tries after making 22 saves through the first 65 minutes.
Earl and defenseman Maxim Noreau each chipped in two helpers for Houston, which had lost each of its past four games in regulation.
MILWAUKEE 2, ROCKFORD 1
Rookie forward Blake Geoffrion and defenseman Jonathon Blum scored power play goals less than two minutes apart in the second period, and Milwaukee held on for a 2-1 road win over Rockford at the MetroCentre on Sunday night.
Geoffrion, last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player, tallied his second goal of the season 9:09 into the middle frame. Blum, who earned an assist on the play, followed at 10:36 to make it 2-0.
Less than three minutes after that, the IceHogs got on the board when defenseman Shawn Lalonde scored at the 13:20 mark. But neither side registered a goal the rest of the way, and Rockford’s brief winning streak ended at two games.
The division rivals will collide again on Tuesday at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.