HAMILTON 3, LAKE ERIE 2
Dustin Boyd broke a 2-2 tie with a power play goal 1:17 into the third period, and Hamilton held on for a 3-2 win over Lake Erie on Thursday at Copps Coliseum.
Boyd has now collected 10 goals in just seven games since joining Hamilton from parent-club Montreal on Dec. 16 after scoring just once in 10 appearances for the Canadiens.
Hamilton rookie goaltender Robert Mayer (7-6-2) stopped 32 of 34 shots to snap a personal two-game losing skid, and the North Division-leading Bulldogs earned their 20th victory as a team (20-10-1-4).
HERSHEY 1, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 0
Second-year goaltender Braden Holtby made 25 saves for his third shutout in 13 appearances this season as Hershey edged Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by a 1-0 count on Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Attendance was 13,567 at the home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and in the same city where these two teams’ NHL affiliates will battle in Saturday’s Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
Keith Aucoin, returned after making his NHL season debut for the Capitals earlier this week, scored the game’s lone goal on the power play with 26 seconds left in the second period. Defenseman Patrick McNeill assisted on Aucoin’s ninth goal of the season and fourth in his last three games.
The AHL’s leading active scorer, Aucoin now has 25 points (9-16-25) in just 16 games overall and seven points (4-3-7) in five outings since returning from a 16-game injury absence.
Holtby improved to 9-3-1 for the season as the Bears earned their first victory in five tries against the Penguins in 2009-10 (1-4-0-0). Hershey won its fourth straight overall and improved to 20-12-0-1 on the year.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which entered with the AHL’s fifth-best offense, was blanked for the first time this season.
ROCHESTER 2, TORONTO 1
Rochester continued its dominance of Toronto on Thursday with a 2-1 win over the host Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Americans improved to 4-1-0-0 against Toronto this season and have now prevailed in 11 of 13 meetings (11-1-0-1) with their North Division rival since the start of the 2009-10 season.
Former AHL All-Star Christian Hanson brought the Marlies within 2-1 with more than half the game left to play, but Toronto could not put another puck past Plante and dropped to 3-6-0-2 in their last 12 contests.
Rochester moved back to the .500 mark overall at 16-16-2-1 (35 points).
CHARLOTTE 4, NORFOLK 3 (OT)
Drayson Bowman lit the lamp just 25 seconds into overtime to give Charlotte a 4-3 overtime win over Norfolk on Thursday and a sweep of the teams’ two-game midweek set at the Scope.
The road team is now a perfect 6-0-0-0 in the season series between these East Division rivals, including a 4-0-0-0 mark for Charlotte in southern Virginia.
The Checkers grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by defenseman Casey Borer and forward Chris Terry, but Admirals forwards Mike Angelidis and Chris Durno both scored their 10th goals of the season just 16 seconds apart in the frame’s closing minute to make it 2-2 heading into intermission.
After a scoreless second period, Angeldis put Norfolk on top 3-2 midway through the third stanza with his second goal of the night. But Jon Matsumoto registered a power play goal for the Checkers at 14:22, ultimately forcing overtime.
Brett Carson earned the lone assist on Bowman’s overtime winner, as the Checkers crept within two points of Norfolk for second place in the East Division and maintained a one-point edge on Hershey for the third spot.
ROCKFORD 3, HOUSTON 1
Rockford scored three times in the third period to overcome a 1-0 deficit and defeat visiting Houston by a 3-1 count on Thursday at the MetroCentre.
Aeros forward Robbie Earl notched his team-leading 10th goal of the season on the power play in the first period’s closing minute, and Houston nursed that 1-0 advantage into the third frame.
Mathis Olimb finally tied it up for Rockford at 6:55 of the third, and Rob Klinkhammer tallied the game-winner with just 3:21 left in regulation. Rookie Kyle Hagel earned an assist on Klinkhammer’s marker and then iced the victory with a late empty-netter.
Rockford goaltender Hannu Toivonen (7-5-3) stopped 29 of 30 shots for his third straight victory, and the 26-year-old has surrendered just one goal in each of those three wins.
The IceHogs, who sit eighth in the West Division but have played fewer games than all of their division rivals, improved to 4-1-0-0 in their last five games and moved above .500 for the season at 14-13-1-4.
It’s the first time Rockford has been above the break-even point since improving to 5-4-0-1 following a 3-2 shootout victory at Milwaukee back on Nov. 3.
BRIDGEPORT 2, WORCESTER 1
Former AHL All-Rookie goaltender Nathan Lawson stood tall with 32 saves in net as Bridgeport eked out a 2-1 road win over Worcester at the DCU Center on Thursday.
Jonathan Cheechoo brought the Sharks within 2-1 at 14:33 of the third frame with his team-best 12th goal of the season, but Worcester couldn’t tie it up and lost for the fourth time in its last five outings (1-3-1-0).
The AHL’s All-Rookie goaltender in 2008-09 for Bridgeport, Lawson improved to 3-4-2 in 10 appearances this season and helped the Sound Tigers close within one point of Worcester for fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
TEXAS 4, ABBOTSFORD 1
Texas jumped out to a 4-0 lead and cruised past host Abbotsford by as 4-1 count on Thursday in the opener of a two-game set at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Rookie goaltender Richard Bachman turned aside 38 of 39 shots for his 13th win of the season (13-5-2), helping the Stars extend their points streak to a season-high six games (4-0-1-1).
The victory also pushed Texas (20-11-2-2) into a tie for second place in the West Division with Milwaukee at 44 points apiece.
Heat rookie Greg Nemisz spoiled Bachman’s shutout bid when he scored on the power play with 8:11 left in the game, his 10th goal of the year. Abbotsford will look for revenge when it hosts the Stars again on Friday night.