MANITOBA 3, TORONTO 2
Marco Rosa and two-time AHL All-Star Sergei Shirokov registered a goal and an assist apiece, and Manitoba officially clinched a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs on Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 road win over Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Moose, who reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2009, will be making their seventh consecutive postseason appearance and ninth in 10 seasons since joining the AHL in 2001.
Shirokov has put up six points (2-4-6) during his current five-game scoring streak after totaling just one goal over his previous six outings combined. Rosa, who nabbed the eventual game-winner 6:10 into the third period, shows 5-5-10 in seven games since returning from a two-month injury absence.
Manitoba halted a brief two-game winless skid (0-1-0-1) and finished 5-3-0-0 against Toronto this season. The Moose conclude their regular-season slate with a two-game set vs. Hamilton next weekend in Winnipeg.
Rookie Joe Colborne netted his 20th goal of the season for the Marlies, and Ryan Hamilton also found the back of the net. Toronto is now clinging to mathematical hope in the playoff chase after dropping eight of its last nine contests (1-6-0-2).
CONNECTICUT 4, PORTLAND 2
Connecticut built a 4-0 lead by early in the third period and then held on to double up visiting Portland by a 4-2 count on Sunday at the XL Center.
Dale Weise paced the Whale’s offense with a pair of goals, including a shorthanded marker early in the third period. Derek Couture tallied the eventual game-winner on the power play, and 2011 AHL All-Star Jeremy Williams potted his team-leading 31st goal of the campaign.
The win allowed Connecticut (39-20-2-6, 86 points) to remain two points up on Worcester in the race for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
Colin Stuart and Mark Parrish (power play) notched third-period goals for the Pirates, who have now lost three straight and six of seven (1-5-1-0). This marks Portland’s first three-game regulation losing skid since a three-game slide from Nov. 21-27.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 5, SYRACUSE 3
Rookie forward Keven Veilleux tallied a pair of goals, Geoff Walker added a goal and a helper, and Nick Petersen assisted on all five of his club’s markers as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton collected a 5-3 road win over Syracuse on Sunday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Petersen became the fourth AHL player this season to record as many as five assists in a game, and the first since Portland’s Marc-Andre Gragnani on Jan. 15. Hershey’s Mathieu Perreault holds the season record with six helpers in a Nov. 14 contest vs. Binghamton.
The Penguins’ power play converted three of eight opportunities on the afternoon, with Veilleux, Walker, and defenseman Corey Potter doing the honors.
The Penguins, who clinched the AHL’s regular-season points title on Saturday night, captured their fifth straight victory and improved to 56-20-0-1 (113 points) for the campaign.
ALBANY 3, BINGHAMTON 2 (SO)
Albany battled back from a 2-0 third-period deficit and then earned a 3-2 shootout win over visiting Binghamton on Sunday at the Times Union Center.
Chad Wiseman and rookie Ryan Ginand notched shootout goals for the Devils, and goaltender Dave Caruso went a perfect 4-for-4 after making 23 saves through the first 65 minutes. It marked Caruso’s first win in an Albany uniform since Mar. 12 vs. Springfield.
Defenseman Patrick Coulombe staked the Senators to a 1-0 advantage early in the second period, and Cody Bass made it a 2-0 game at 2:07 of the third frame. B-Sens defenseman Derek Smith assisted on both markers.
The Devils, who will visit Adirondack on Wednesday before concluding the season with three straight games against Atlantic Division foes next weekend, finished 5-2-1-0 vs. Binghamton in 2010-11.
Winless in three straight games (0-2-0-1), the Senators still earned a point in the shootout loss and reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two over Worcester, which defeated Providence on Sunday.
WORCESTER 2, PROVIDENCE 1
Jamie McGinn picked up a second-period assist and then scored the eventual game-winning goal in the third period as Worcester earned a crucial 2-1 road win over Providence on Sunday before 7,332 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Sharks earned a split of their home-and-home set with the Bruins, improved to 5-3-0-0 in their last eight outings, and remained two points back of Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot. Both teams have three games remaining.
T.J. Trevelyan put the Sharks on top courtesy of a power play goal at 14:30 of the second period, with McGinn and Dan DaSilva earning helpers. McGinn then made it 2-0 midway through the third frame, and the unassisted goal was his eighth AHL tally of the season.
Rookie forward Maxime Sauve put Providence on the board less than a minute after McGinn’s trike, but the non-playoff-bound Bruins were unable to tie it up and finished 5-5-1-1 against Worcester this season.
Finnish-born goaltender Harri Sateri, a fourth-round draft pick by parent-club San Jose in 2008, earned his first career AHL victory for Worcester with 33 saves in net. Providence’s Anton Khudobin took the tough-luck loss after making 40 stops.
The Sharks host Portland on Tuesday before closing their schedule with a pair of games in Charlotte next weekend.
ROCKFORD 5, TEXAS 1
Rockford captain Jeff Taffe led the way with a goal and two assists as the IceHogs bounced back from a brutal loss in Oklahoma City on Friday to earn a convincing 5-1 road win over Texas on Sunday at the Cedar Park Center.
The IceHogs, coming off a 7-0 defeat to the Barons, improved to 6-1-0-0 in their last seven outings and back above .500 for the season at 34-33-4-5 (77 points).
Rookies Ben Smith and Brandon Pirri each posted a goal and an assist for Rockford; Peter LeBlanc rounded out the offense; and goaltender Hannu Toivonen (19-16-4) earned the victory with 30 saves on 31 shots in net.
The IceHogs finished 3-1-1-1 in their six-game season series against Texas.
Travis Morin netted the lone goal for the Stars, who have now lost consecutive games by a combined score of 7-1.
PEORIA 4, MILWAUKEE 3
T.J. Hensick tallied a pair of goals to help Peoria edge first-place Milwaukee by a 4-3 count on Sunday at the Bradley Center, boosting its playoff chances in the still-tight West Division race.
Hensick, a three-time AHL All-Star who recently enjoyed a 13-game NHL recall to the St. Louis Blues, notched his first goals in four games since returning and his 19th and 20th of the campaign. It marks Hensick’s second consecutive 20-goal AHL season, as he accomplished it last year with Lake Erie.
Stefan Della Rovere netted the game-winner for Peoria, and Akim Aliu rounded out the Rivermen’s offense. Goaltender Ben Bishop made two saves before leaving the game 16:59 into the first period, and rookie Jake Allen stopped 11 of 14 shots the rest of the way.
By going 2-0-1-0 on a three-game road weekend, Peoria (40-29-3-5, 88 points) moved into fourth place in the West Division, one point up on fifth-place Oklahoma City and two ahead of sixth-place Chicago, which would not make the playoffs if the season ended tonight.
Chris Mueller (1-1-2) and Gabriel Bourque potted goals for the Admirals, and rookie defenseman Roman Josi posted two assists. With Texas’s loss to Rockford, Milwaukee is now just one point away from clinching the West Division title.