MANITOBA 2, ABBOTSFORD 1
Marco Rosa broke a 1-1 tie with an unassisted goal just 45 seconds into the third period, and rookie goaltender Eddie Lack turned in another stellar performance with 44 saves as Manitoba took a 2-1 win over Abbotsford on Sunday before 8,792 fans at the MTS Centre.
Rosa, who missed more than two months’ worth of action due to injury, nabbed the game-winning goal in this one only two days after scoring in Friday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Heat, which marked his first game back in the lineup.
He now shows nine goals on the season, four of which have been game-winners.
Ryan MacMurchy initially gave the Heat a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period, but Moose defenseman Mark Flood evened it up on the power play at 13:25 of the second frame. Rosa and rookie rearguard Kevin Connauton earned helpers on the tally.
Lack (26-19-3) withstood a 21-shot barrage by Abbotsford in the first 20 minutes and then stopped all 24 shots sent his way over the final two periods. The 23-year-old made a total of 89 saves on 92 shots in the Moose’s two-game sweep of the Heat this weekend.
Manitoba (40-27-1-5, 86 points) moved within two points of first-place Lake Erie in the North Division, and both teams have seven games remaining.
The Heat are now five points back of Hamilton for the North Divisions’ final guaranteed playoff spot but would also have to leap over Toronto and Grand Rapids in order to reach the Bulldogs.
BINGHAMTON 4, SPRINGFIELD 1
Roman Wick registered a goal and an assist to lead Binghamton to its third win in as many nights and sixth straight victory overall, a 4-1 road decision over Springfield on Sunday at the MassMutual Center.
The surging Senators, who won eight straight games in February prior to this hot streak, are now just one point back of Norfolk for fourth place in the East Division and remain seven points ahead of Worcester for the Eastern Conference’s crossover playoff spot.
Eric Gryba and Cody Bass also scored for the Senators, and defenseman Andre Benoit capped off the win with an empty-netter late in the third period. AHL leading scorer Corey Locke (21-64-85) tacked on two more assists to his league-leading total.
The Falcons, who are now 1-12-1-0 in their last 14 contests, received their lone score from rookie defenseman David Savard in the third period’s opening minute.
WORCESTER 3, ADIRONDACK 1
T.J. Trevelyan broke a 1-1 deadlock with 8:14 left in regulation, and Worcester went on to post a much-needed 3-1 win over visiting Adirondack at the DCU Center on Sunday afternoon.
Coupled with Connecticut’s loss in Providence, the Sharks moved within four points of the Whale for the Atlantic Divisions’ third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
With Binghamton having won six straight games and holding a seven-point lead for the crossover berth, catching Connecticut may be Worcester’s most realistic path to the postseason.
ROCKFORD 3, CHICAGO 2
Rockford extended its winning streak to a season-high four games and capped off a perfect three-game weekend on Sunday with a 3-2 road win over Chicago before 11,255 fans at Allstate Arena.
The IceHogs poured 22 shots on Chicago goaltender Edward Pasquale during the first period but emerged from it in a 1-1 deadlock. Mathis Olimb put the ‘Hogs on top with a power play strike at 4:53, but Wolves forward Fredrik Pettersson answered at 11:21.
Former second-round draft pick Carl Klingberg nabbed his first career AHL goal for the Wolves midway through the third period, but Chicago could not get the equalizer and continued its recent trend of alternating wins and losses.
Rockford, which is keeping its slim playoff hopes alive by virtue of this hot stretch, had previously won three consecutive games on two prior occasions this season.
PROVIDENCE 4, CONNECTICUT 2
Kirk MacDonald netted a pair of goals and Trent Whitfield put up a game-high three points (1-2-3) as Providence kept its flickering playoff hopes alive with a 4-2 home-ice win over Connecticut in front of 8,405 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday.
The Bruins (33-34-3-3, 72 points) now sit 12 points back of the third-place Whale in the Atlantic Division with seven games left to play.
After a scoreless first period, David Ling put the P-Bruins on the board 3:49 into the second frame, with Whitfield and Lane MacDermid earning assists. Whitfield followed with a power play goal at the 7:26 mark, and MacDonald scored shorthanded 8:11 into the third stanza, stretching the lead to 3-0.
Whale forward Derek Couture then nabbed a pair of third-period goals, with an empty-net strike by MacDonald wedged in between.
It marked Grumet-Morris’s first loss since he was the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 setback at Charlotte on Feb. 26.
CHARLOTTE 8, NORFOLK 2
Rookie forward Zac Dalpe tallied two goals and an assist, fellow top prospect Zach Boychuk posted a goal and two helpers, and Charlotte steamrolled visiting Norfolk by an 8-2 count on Sunday afternoon before 7,924 fans at Time Warner Cable Arena.
It marked the third time this season that the Checkers reached at least eight goals, following a 9-5 win in Wilkes-Barre on Jan. 23 and a 10-3 thrashing of Syracuse back on Dec. 6. Charlotte entered the day ranked fourth in the AHL in overall offense (3.23 goals per game).
Cedric McNicoll and Chris Terry each put up a goal and an assist in the winning effort, while Matthew Pistilli, Riley Nash, and Nicolas Blanchard rounded out the offense. Charlotte scored three times in the opening period before burying four more in the second frame and one in the third.
Charlotte goaltender Justin Pogge (20-16-4) secured the win with 39 saves on 41 shots in net.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 3, HERSHEY 2
Hershey forward Keith Aucoin forced overtime with a shorthanded goal late in the third period, but Bryan Lerg nabbed his own shorthanded marker at 3:17 of overtime to send Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 3-2 road win over Hershey on Sunday before 10,653 at the Giant Center.
Coupled with Norfolk’s loss in Charlotte, the Penguins’ victory allowed them to officially claim their first East Division title since 2007-08. The Bears had captured the division each of the past two years and parlayed it into the Calder Cup title both years.
Street’s power play goal at 12:52 of the second period looked like it would stand up as the game-winner until Aucoin potted is second goal in as many nights with just 1:41 left in regulation. Mathieu Perreault and Dmitry Orlov picked up the assists.
Brett Sterling collected two assists for the Penguins; defenseman Brian Strait earned the lone helper on Lerg’s game-winner; and Pens goaltender John Curry stopped 24 of 26 shots to record his 20th victory of the season (20-13-0).
The Penguins improved to 52-20-0-1 (105 points) overall and are now an impressive 7-1-0-0 against Hershey this season after finishing just 2-9-0-1 against their cross-state rivals last year.
Hershey (43-24-3-5, 94 points) is now just three points up on third-place Charlotte in the East.
HOUSTON 5, OKLAHOMA CITY 4
Five different Houston skaters tallied goals, and Warren Peters’s marker with 4:20 left in regulation broke a 4-4 tie and lifted Houston to a 5-4 win over visiting Oklahoma City on Sunday in the third game between the teams in as many nights.
The Aeros captured all three contests – one in a shootout – improved to 7-1-0-0 in their last eight games, and remained tied with Milwaukee for first place in the West Division race.
Houston (44-26-1-5, 94 points) does only have four games left in the regular season, while the Admirals will have seven games remaining at the end of the night.
Oklahoma City ended its nine-game road trek on a five-game winless skid (0-3-0-2) and remains tied with Peoria and Chicago for fourth place in the West Division playoff race. The Barons will play a pair of home games next weekend before concluding their schedule with three straight road tilts on the season’s final weekend.
HAMILTON 3, PEORIA 1
Hamilton scored three times in less than six minutes during the second period, turning a 1-0 deficit into what would become a 3-1 road win over Peoria at Carver Arena on Sunday.
Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre (17-10-3) allowed just one goal for a second consecutive night and finished with 26 saves on 27 shots between the pipes.
The victory pushed Hamilton (37-26-2-7, 83 points) two points up on Toronto for the North Division’s third and final playoff spot, and the Bulldogs still hold two games in hand on the Marlies.
Graham Mink notched his team-leading 24th goal of the season for the Rivermen, who have now lost four of their last five games (1-4-0-0) and remained in a three-way tie with Chicago and Oklahoma City for fourth place in the West Division race.
MILWAUKEE 2, SAN ANTONIO 1
Milwaukee tallied a pair of power play goals and held on for a 2-1 win over visiting San Antonio on Sunday at the Bradley Center.
Admirals rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith (14-6-2) earned the victory with 29 saves in net, including 14 during a third period in which San Antonio pressed for a tying marker.
Milwaukee extended its points streak to four games (40-19-6-8) and remained tied with Houston atop the West Division with three games in hand on the Aeros.
Mathieu Beaudoin netted the lone goal for the Rampage, who fell to 1-5-0-1 in their last seven games and stayed two points back of a potential playoff spot in the Western Conference.