GRAND RAPIDS 2, OKLAHOMA CITY 1 (SO)
Jordan Pearce made 31 saves and stopped four of five shootout attempts as Grand Rapids moved into a tie for fourth place in the North Division and within two points of a playoff spot with a thrilling 2-1 shootout win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Pearce improved to 10-2-3 in his last 15 games, as the Griffins (33-25-2-8) pushed their home winning streak to five, their overall point streak to eight (7-0-1-0), and ran their AHL-best record over the last 11 games to 9-1-1-0.
Despite being outshot by a large margin for most of the opening stanza, the Barons (34-25-2-7) used a power play and a pair of former Griffins to set up their lone goal at 19:06. Taking a pass from Alexandre Giroux high in the left circle, Bryan Helmer sent a back-door feed to Brad Moran for an easy tally.
Francis Pare tied matters 10:49 into the second with his seventh goal in the last six games and 62nd of his Griffins career, moving past Slava Butsayev into sole possession of 10th place on the franchise’s all-time list. Jamie Johnson stole a pass in the Oklahoma City zone and quickly sent a pass out front to Pare, who whipped a shot past Barons goaltender Martin Gerber from the slot.
Giroux had a great chance to put the Barons back on top with just five seconds remaining in the period, charging down the slot to redirect a centering pass, but Pearce made a fantastic save to keep it a 1-1 game through 40 minutes.
With the point earned in the shootout loss, Oklahoma City moved to within two points of Chicago for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
HAMILTON 2, ROCHESTER 0
Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre made 18 saves for his first shutout of the season as the Bulldogs collected a 2-0 road win over Rochester on Wednesday at the Blue Cross Arena.
Andrew Conboy tallied the eventual game-winning goal for the Bulldogs (36-24-1-6, 79 points), who moved into sole possession of second place in the North Division, one point back of front-running Manitoba with two games in hand.
Following two scoreless periods, the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first at 14:04 of the final frame with a power-play goal. David Urquhart sent a pass along the blue line to Mathieu Carle, who blasted a shot on net. The shot was stopped by Rochester starting goaltender Tyler Plante, but Conboy whacked the loose rebound past the goaltender and into the net.
With the assist, Carle moves into a tie with Andre Benoit for most all-time points by a Bulldogs defenseman with 93.
The ‘Dogs added a goal at 19:57 when Alexander Avtsin was tripped while on a breakaway toward Rochester’s empty net, as the Amerks had pulled Plante for an extra attacker.
The Americans dipped to 1-5-0-0 in their last six contests.
SAN ANTONIO 2, MILWAUKEE 1 (SO)
San Antonio opened up a two-game home-ice set against Milwaukee on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over the Admirals in front of 6,484 fans at the AT&T Center.
Viktor Tikhonov, Ned Lukacevic and Mathieu Beaudoin each tallied goals in the shootout for the Rampage, who improved to 7-1 in shootout games this season and moved to 37-25-3-1 (78 points) overall. San Antonio is now just one point back of Chicago for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot and still holds three games in hand on the Wolves.
The Rampage were the first to score as they claimed a 1-0 lead on their first power play opportunity of the night 9:15 after the initial puck drop when center Bracken Kearns redirected Tikhonov’s shot from the blue line through the five-hole of Admirals goaltender Mark Dekanich. Dane Byers chipped in on the play with an assist.
Milwaukee evened the score at 1-1 when Chris Mueller’s backhanded pass from behind the net found the stick of left wing Gabriel Bourque above the crease who punched it high glove side past Rampage netminder Matt Climie 11:36 into the second period.
That was the only goal Climie would allow, though, as he finished with 21 saves through the first 65 minutes before denying three of four Milwaukee attempts in the shootout.
Despite falling to 1-2-1-1 in their last five outings, Milwaukee moved one point up on Houston for the West Division’s top spot. The Admirals will be back in San Antonio for a rematch on Friday night.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 4, MANITOBA 1
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton poured 20 shots on goal during the second period and came away empty, but the Penguins then connected on four of 18 shots in the final 20 minutes to come away with a 4-1 road win over Manitoba on Wednesday at the MTS Centre.
The Penguins earned a sweep of their two-game visit to Winnipeg, finished 3-0-0-1 on their Canadian road trip, and moved their league-leading overall record to 48-18-0-1 (97 points). Wilkes-Barre is now nine points clear of second-place Hershey in the East Division with a pair of games in hand.
Manitoba held a 12-5 shots advantage in the first period and came away with a 1-0 lead when Joel Perrault notched a power play goal late in the stanza.
The second period and first 10 minutes of the third were scoreless, but then the Penguins came to life. Bryan Lerg put the Pens on the board at the 11:56 mark, and Zach Sill gave Wilkes-Barre the lead for good just 1:09 later. Defenseman Corey Potter followed 32 seconds after that, and Tim Wallace closed the book on the power play at 16:07.
CHARLOTTE 2, BRIDGEPORT 1 (SO)
After tying the game midway through the second period, Charlotte got shootout goals from Jacob Micflikier and Chris Terry to defeat host Bridgeport by a 2-1 count at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard on Wednesday.
Checkers goaltender Mike Murphy (20-11-3) stopped four of Bridgeport’s five shootout attempts and 30 of 31 shots in regulation and overtime to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time in his professional career.
Chris Terry was the regulation-time goal-scorer for the Checkers, who improved to 37-23-2-6 (82 points) overall and 3-0-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season, pushing them one point up on idle Norfolk for third place in the East Division race. Terry’s 26th goal pulled him into a sixth-place tie in the AHL in that category.
With the teams scoreless through the game’s first 30 minutes, Colliton scored a power-play goal to give Bridgeport a 1-0 lead at 10:17 of the second period. Bridgeport’s top two scorers, rookie Rhett Rakhshani and Rob Hisey, cycled the puck along the left-wing boards and generated a shot that Murphy stopped, but Colliton was on the doorstep to cash in on the rebound.
Just over a minute after they took the lead, the Sound Tigers took two penalties 12 seconds apart to hand the Checkers a five-on-three power play. During the advantage, Zach Boychuk set up a shot for Zac Dalpe and the rebound bounced to Terry, who deposited it into an open right side of the net.
The teams will conclude their four-game season series with a rematch on Friday night in Bridgeport.
ADIRONDACK 5, BINGHAMTON 2
Five different Adirondack skaters lit the lamp, including two players scoring their first ever in the AHL, as the Phantoms cruised to a 5-2 victory over visiting Binghamton on Wednesday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Michael Ryan (18th goal), Tom Sestito (13th) and Ben Holmstrom (13th) were the other goal-scorers for Adirondack, which earned its second straight victory and improved to 8-3-2-3 in its last 16 games.
Adirondack goaltender Michael Leighton made 21 saves on 23 shots in net to preserve the win.
Forward Roman Wick netted both goals for the struggling Senators, who fell to 2-6-0-1 in their last nine games and still hold just a one-point lead on Connecticut and Worcester for the Eastern Conference’s crossover playoff berth.
ALBANY 6, SYRACUSE 1
A four-goal outburst in the third period sent Albany cruising to a 6-1 road win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Wednesday night.
The Devils established a season high and matched a franchise record with their fifth consecutive victory, equaling a run achieved from Nov. 21-29, 2008 and again from Nov. 7-14, 2009, both when the franchise was based in Lowell, Mass.
Reigning Reebok/AHL player of the week Chad Wiseman led the way with a goal and two assists for the Devils, who also received markers from Steve Zalewski (1-1-2), rookie Adam Henrique (1-1-2), Tim Sestito, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, and defenseman Andy Thomas.
Albany goaltender Mike McKenna secured the victory with 26 saves on 27 shots between the pipes.
MANCHESTER 4, SPRINGFIELD 2
Atlantic Division-leading Manchester built a 4-0 lead by early in the third period and cruised from there to a 4-2 win over fading Springfield on Wednesday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
A trio of 20-goal scorers lit the lamp for the Monarchs on this night, led by forward Oscar Moller’s 21st and 22nd tallies of the campaign. Dwight King and rookie Brandon Kozun each potted his 21st of the year, and Corey Elkins chipped in a pair of assists.
Zatkoff (18-12-5) finished with 24 saves on 26 shots in net, helping Manchester to its third consecutive victory. The Monarchs now sit three points up on second-place Portland in the Atlantic, though the Pirates have played five fewer games.
Springfield is now winless in eight straight contests (0-7-1-0).