1. On the Mark
The AHL season is barely three weeks old, and already the record books are in danger of being outdated.
Jacob Markstrom of the Utica Comets moved closer to American Hockey League history on Saturday night when he posted his third consecutive shutout, a 27-save effort in a 4-0 win over the Toronto Marlies.
Markstrom enters the new week having gone 232 minutes and 13 seconds without allowing a goal, a streak that is less than two periods shy of the AHL’s all-time record. For the season, Markstrom (4-0-0) has stopped 108 of 109 shots, good for a 0.25 goals-against average and a .991 save percentage. The three shutouts this season already match a personal career high for the fifth-year AHL netminder.
Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bower held the mark for 55 years after his shutout streak of 249:51 with the Cleveland Barons in 1957. That record was finally eclipsed in 2012 by Barry Brust, who held opponents off the scoreboard for 268:17 spanning five games with the Abbotsford Heat.
Brust broke Bower’s mark on Nov. 24, 2012, during a Heat game in San Antonio. The opposing goaltender for the Rampage that night was Jacob Markstrom.
The Comets (5-1-1-0 and atop the North Division) are in action three times this week, traveling to Binghamton on Wednesday and hosting the Senators on Friday before visiting Adirondack on Saturday.
2. Milwaukee on top again
Last season, the Milwaukee Admirals raced out to a 6-0-2-0 start before becoming the last of the AHL’s 30 teams to be saddled with a regulation loss. In 2014-15, it’s been more of the same.
A pair of extra-time wins over the weekend pushed Milwaukee’s record to 6-0-0-0, the only remaining perfect mark in the league.
The Admirals defeated Chicago on Friday, 3-2, on an overtime goal by defenseman Anthony Bitetto. Then on Saturday, Milwaukee got a late third-period goal from Garrett Noonan before edging Lake Erie in the shootout, 2-1.
Helping to lead the Admirals’ offense has been a trio of rookies: Brendan Leipsic (0-7-7), Viktor Arvidsson (4-1-5) and Pontus Åberg (4-1-5). In net, Marek Mazanec (5-0-0, 1.96, .931) made the first five starts of the season before Magnus Hellberg (1-0-0, 0.90, .962) kept the winning streak alive on Saturday.
3. Newbury at 499
The league’s leading scorer with 11 points in seven games this season, Hershey Bears forward Kris Newbury is on the verge of joining an exclusive AHL group.
Newbury is poised to become the 88th player in the 79-year history of the American Hockey League with 500 career points. He enters the week with 164 goals and 335 assists (499 points) in 669 career AHL contests over 12 seasons.
4. Fantastic finish
Derek Grant scored twice in the final 15 seconds of regulation on Saturday night, but Scott Laughton‘s goal while the teams skated 3-on-3 in overtime gave Lehigh Valley a 5-4 victory at Binghamton.
Grant tipped home a shot from Matt Puempel with 14.1 seconds left in the third period to cut the Phantoms’ lead to 4-3, then banged home a centering feed from Shane Prince with 5.4 seconds to go to forge the tie.
Laughton won it 5:40 into OT with his fifth goal of the season, tied for the league lead among rookies.
5. Devils rolling early
Albany is the last remaining team in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss, going 5-0-0-1 to start the season.
The Devils are averaging 4.67 goals per game, including 12 goals in a sweep of their home-and-home with Hartford over the weekend. After opening the season with a four-goal game at Adirondack on Oct. 11, Paul Thompson (7-1-8) still leads the AHL with seven goals overall, and Scott Timmins (3-5-8) carries a six-game scoring streak into the new week.
6. Back for Morin
After leading the AHL in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs in 2013-14 (and winning both MVP awards), Texas Stars forward Travis Morin is picking up where he left off.
Five games into the Stars’ Calder Cup title defense, Morin has scored five goals and added four assists for nine points, including a hat trick in Saturday’s 6-5 overtime loss to Oklahoma City.
In his last 76 regular-season games (the equivalent of a full season), Morin has totaled 39 goals and 66 assists for 105 points for the Stars. Since 2011, Morin’s numbers in the month of October are 18-24-42 in 30 games.
7. Wild shootout in St. John’s
The St. John’s IceCaps had lost their previous 10 trips past regulation and appeared snake-bitten through eight shootout rounds on Saturday night, but rookie Connor Hellebuyck finally made the save the IceCaps were looking for in a 2-1 victory over visiting Bridgeport.
St. John’s took the lead in the top half of four consecutive sudden-death rounds on goals by Chase Balisy, Patrick Holland, Austen Brassard and Ben Walker, only to have the Sound Tigers respond with answers from Colin McDonald, Alan Quine, Jesse Graham and Harry Zolnierczyk.
Finally, Brenden Kichton‘s goal in the ninth round was followed by a Hellebuyck stop of Mike Halmo to give the IceCaps their first extra-time victory since a 2-1 shootout decision at Bridgeport on Mar. 22, 2014.
The IceCaps’ 10-game skid included eight overtime losses — four during the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs — and two shootout setbacks.
8. Fast Freddie
The first home-ice hat trick by the Worcester Sharks in nearly six years was well worth the wait.
Freddie Hamilton scored three times in a span of 5:12 early in the third period and Worcester went on to a 4-1 win over the Portland Pirates on Sunday afternoon. They were the first three goals of the season for Hamilton, who scored a team-best 22 goals for Worcester in 2013-14.
Hamilton’s performance marked the first hat trick by a Sharks skater at the DCU Center since Feb. 28, 2009, when P.J. Fenton scored three times in a 7-3 win over Springfield.
Worcester is off to a 4-1-1-0 start, with a .750 points percentage that ranks second in the Eastern Conference.
9. Youth movement
The youngest player in the AHL, David Pastrnak of the Providence Bruins is also off to one of the league’s hottest starts.
Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by Boston, leads AHL rookies with seven assists, nine points and a plus-8 rating while helping Providence to a 4-2-1-0 mark in seven games.
A native of Havirov, Czech Republic, Pastrnak won’t turn 19 until May 25, 2015. He played last season with Sodertalje in the Swedish Hockey League and won a silver medal with the Czech team at the IIHF’s U-18 World Junior Championship tournament.
For the 2014-15 season, a total of 26 AHL players have now made their NHL debuts.