HARTFORD 3, PROVIDENCE 2 (SO)
Hartford clinched its 12th Calder Cup Playoff berth in as many AHL seasons on Saturday with a 3-2 shootout win over rival Providence in front of 7,591 fans at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack’s Artem Anisimov scored his team-leading 33rd goal to tie it with 8:29 left in regulation before adding a marker in the first shootout round.
That set the stage for Anisimov’s tying goal at 11:31 of the third. The primary assist went to Paul Crowder, his first professional point. Wolf Pack rookie goaltender Matt Zaba secured the victory with 23 saves on 25 shots.
Hartford moved two points up on the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division as it pursues its first division crown since the 2003-04 campaign.
The Wolf Pack, winners of the 2000 Calder Cup title, own the longest active postseason streak in the American Hockey League, having never missed out since their inception in 1997-98.
PORTLAND 5, MANCHESTER 2
Colin Murphy netted a hat trick as Portland surged into third place in the Atlantic Division with a 5-2 win over visiting Manchester before 6,505 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Murphy scored twice in the second period – including an unassisted shorthanded marker – before completing the hat trick 4:26 into the second frame.
Pirates rookie goaltender Jhonas Enroth earned the victory with 24 saves on 26 shots. Portland is now one point up on Manchester and two ahead of Worcester in the Atlantic.
WORCESTER 1, LOWELL 0
Lowell goaltender Jeff Frazee posted another shutout over division-rival Worcester, making 33 saves in the Devils’ crucial 1-0 road win over the Sharks at the DCU Center.
Frazee has now stopped all 76 shots the Sharks have sent his way over the teams’ last two meetings, having posted a 43-save shutout of Worcester last Saturday in Lowell.
The Devils pulled within four points of Manchester for the Atlantic Division’s fourth and final playoff spot. Worcester is one point back of the Monarchs for that spot.
HERSHEY 7, BRIDGEPORT 2
The potent tandem of Keith Aucoin (2-3-5) and Alexandre Giroux (2-2-4) combined for nine points as Hershey took a 7-2 win over Bridgeport before 10,728 fans at the Giant Center on Saturday. Aucoin leads the AHL with 94 points (25-69-94), and Giroux ranks second with 89, including an AHL-high 54 goals.
The Bears extended their winning streak to five games and moved five points ahead of the Sound Tigers for first place in the East Division. Hershey also still holds a game in hand.
Bears rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov earned the victory with 38 saves on 40 shots.
BINGHAMTON 3, ROCHESTER 2 (SO)
Binghamton went 3-for-3 in the shootout to take a 3-2 win over visiting Rochester on Saturday at the Broome County Arena.
Greg Mauldin, Denis Hamel, and Ilya Zubov all potted shootout goals for the Senators, while goaltender Jeff Glass stopped all three Rochester tries after making 35 saves through regulation and overtime.
The Americans seemed poised for a 2-1 regulation win before Sens captain Hamel tallied the equalizer on the power play with 2:02 to play in the third period. Defenseman Matt Taormina also scored in regulation for Binghamton.
The Senators remain six points up on Philadelphia for the East Division’s final playoff spot.
PHILADELPHIA 7, GRAND RAPIDS 4
A night after suffering a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Toronto, Philadelphia matched a season high on Saturday with seven goals in a 7-4 win over Grand Rapids before 8,370 fans at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Philadelphia remained six points back of Binghamton for the East Division’s fourth and final postseason berth.
SPRINGFIELD 3, ALBANY 1
Springfield struck for two goals in a 1:33 span in the first period and held on for a 3-1 road win over Albany at the Times Union Center.
Shane Willis scored 8:02 into the contest for the Falcons, and Ryan Stone followed at the 9:35 mark. After a scoreless second frame, Ryan Potulny potted his team-leading 32nd goal of the campaign to make it 3-0 midway through the third.
Albany’s Ryan Weston netted a shorthanded goal with 4:26 to play in regulation, spoiling Springfield goaltender Dany Sabourin’s shutout bid. Sabourin finished with 38 saves on 39 shots in the winning effort.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 5, TORONTO 2
Chris Minard put up two goals and two assists to pace Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 5-2 win over visiting Toronto before 8,242 fans at the Wachovia Arena on Saturday.
With the victory, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (45-24-2-2, 94 points) closed to within two points of Bridgeport for second place in the East Division, and the Penguins still hold a game in hand.
SYRACUSE 8, LAKE ERIE 5
Syracuse scored a season-high eight goals en route to an 8-5 triumph over visiting Lake Erie on Saturday before 6,012 fans at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Michael Blunden led the way with two goals and an assist for the Crunch. Nikita Filatov (1-2-3), Tom Sestito (1-1-2), Dan Spang (0-2-2), and Trevor Frischmon (0-3-3) all posted multiple points on the night.
Stefan Legein, Jon Landry, and Mike York rounded out the Crunch’s scoring, helping Syracuse move within one point of Toronto for fourth place in the North Division. The Crunch will visit the Marlies on Sunday afternoon.
CHICAGO 3, QUAD CITY 2 (SO)
Defenseman Brett Skinner scored in the eighth round of a shootout to propel Chicago to a critical 3-2 win over visiting Quad City before 13,417 fans at Allstate Arena on Saturday.
Joe Motzko tallied a pair of shootout goals for the Wolves, who pulled within one point of Rockford for the West Division’s final guaranteed playoff spot.
The Wolves received regulation markers from Matt Anderson and Joey Crabb, and Brett Sterling assisted on both markers. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves through regulation and overtime and stopped six of eight in the shootout to pick up the victory.
SAN ANTONIO 3, ROCKFORD 2
San Antonio took a 2-0 lead by the mid-point of the first period and held on for a 3-2 win over visiting Rockford in front of 7,427 fans at the AT&T Center.
David Schlemko tallied an unassisted goal for the Rampage 2:16 into the contest, and Kevin Porter made it a 2-0 game at 10:48. After Rockford defenseman Danny Groulx cut it to 2-1, the Rampage’s Joel Perrault scored 12:37 into the second frame to regain the two-goal advantage.
Tyler Mosienko potted a third-period power play goal for the IceHogs, but they were unable to get the equalizer and saw their lead on fifth-place Chicago in the West Division shrink to one point.
Rampage goaltender Karl Goehring earned the victory with 22 saves on 24 shots.
PEORIA 5, HOUSTON 2
Peoria erupted for five unanswered goals and took a 5-2 win over visiting Houston on Saturday at Carver Arena.
With the win, the Rivermen tied the Aeros for second place in the West Division race. Both clubs show 82 points, though Houston still holds two games in hand.
IOWA 4, MILWAUKEE 3 (SO)
Iowa gained ground in the frantic West Division playoff race with a 4-3 shootout victory over host Milwaukee in front of 15,602 fans at the Bradley Center.
After a scoreless overtime, Iowa converted on all three shootout tries, with Adrian Veideman, Petri Kontiola, and Matt Beleskey doing the honors. Chops goaltender Jean-Philippe Levasseur stopped three of Milwaukee’s four tries after making 26 saves through the first 65 minutes.
Iowa closed to within one point of Chicago for fifth place in the West and two points back of Rockford for fourth place and a guaranteed playoff spot.