Saturday's Morning Skate 4/4

Saturday, April 4, 2015
The Phantoms and BSens clashed Friday night in another physical, fight-filled affair to close out their regular season series.
The final 15 days of the 2014-15 regular season bring a time where teams are either fighting for playoff positioning or playing the role of spoiler. Teams like the Hershey Bears and W-B/Scranton Penguins - who have already clinched a playoff - fall under that first category. The Binghamton Senators and Lehigh Valley Phantoms? They belong to that second category, playing out their remaining games for pride.

Sometimes when two teams playing for pride meet up, especially two physical teams like the Phantoms and BSens who play each other 8 times a year, things get ugly. If not for the close score last night in Binghamton, it could've gotten much worse than the 74 penalty minutes assessed in the game.

I was in Binghamton last night providing live coverage of the current Phantoms road trip, which concludes tonight in Wilkes-Barre against another East Division rivalry opponent. Tune in here for live updates of tonight's game and on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock_TCG. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but I'll be live from Mohegan Sun Arena at 6:00 ET.

Eastern Conference Standings (through 4/3's games)

* = division leader
x = clinched playoff spot

x*1. Manchester: 7 games remaining, 45-16-6-2 = 98 points
x*2. Hershey: 6 games remaining, 42-20-5-3 = 92 points
x*3. Syracuse: 7 games remaining, 40-20-9-0 = 89 points
4. W-B/Scranton: 7 games remaining, 39-23-3-4 = 85 points
5. Worcester: 8 games remaining, 39-23-4-2 = 84 points
6. Hartford: 7 games remaining, 37-23-5-4 = 83 points
7. Providence: 7 games remaining, 37-23-7-2 = 83 points
8. Portland: 8 games remaining, 37-24-6-1 = 81 points
9. Springfield: 5 games remaining, 35-27-8-1 = 79 points
10. Albany: 7 games remaining, 32-26-5-6 = 75 points
11. St. John's: 5 games remaining, 30-31-8-2 = 70 points
12. Lehigh Valley: 8 games remaining, 31-30-6-1 = 69 points

After the jump, recaps of Friday night's East Division games and a look ahead to Saturday's schedule.

Lehigh Valley - 3 at Binghamton - 4

In Binghamton, the Phantoms and BSens concluded their regular season series with another chippy, hard fought battle that saw the home team prevail after a bad bounce at the Phantoms blue line sprung Ryan Dzingel for a breakaway goal with 1:54 left in regulation.

Shane Prince tallied his 25th of the season and added an assist for the BSens, while defensemen Alex Grant and Aaron Johnson tallied two assists each in the win. Chris Driedger stopped 28 shots of 31 to improve to 4-0 on the year since being recalled from the BSens' ECHL affiliate in Elmira.

Jason Akeson had a game-high three points (1G-2A) in the loss for Lehigh Valley, while Blair Jones and Mark Alt tallied goals for the Phantoms. Rob Zepp got the start in net and stopped 31 of 35 shots.

The BSens travel to Albany for a 5 p.m. face-off against the Devils, while Lehigh Valley takes on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday night to conclude a three-game road trip.

Worcester - 4 at W-B/Scranton - 2

In a match up between the fourth and fifth place teams in the conference, the Worcester Sharks dominated the Penguins in a 4-2 win Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sharks out shot the Pens 19-7 in the second period and added to their 2-1 lead in the third, making it 4-1 before a late goal by Dominik Uher capped the scoring.

In his AHL debut, 19-year-old Sharks prospect Nikolay Goldobin was impressive - opening the scoring in the final 15 seconds of the 1st period and setting up Daniil Tarasov's power play goal midway through the 3rd to pull the Sharks ahead by three. Aaron Dell stopped 27 of 29 shots in the win for Worcester, improving to 14-5-2 on the season - his first season playing primarily in the AHL.

Uher's goal late in the third period was his his third goal in his last two games, but it was too little too late for the Pens. Tom Kuhnhackl added two assists in the loss, while Jeff Zatkoff allowed four goals on 36 shots.

Worcester is off the rest of Easter weekend, with their next game coming Monday night in Bridgeport. The Penguins host the Phantoms at 7:05 ET in what should be another hotly contested battle between East Division rivals.

NOTE: Kasperi Kapanen WILL NOT play tonight for the Penguins against the Phantoms. The Pens can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight AND regulation losses by both Springfield and Albany. It will be the 13th straight season that the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate will qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The team hasn't missed the postseason since the 2001-02 season.

Hershey - 0 at Norfolk - 4

In a battle between the 2nd place and 15th place teams in the Eastern Conference, the latter (Norfolk) shutout the former (Hershey) in a surprising result in southern Virginia.

Rookie Ryan Faragher recorded a 24-save shutout - his first AHL shutout - in the win for the Admirals, while the home team had four different goal scorers spread throughout the lineup.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 31 of the 35 in the loss for Hershey. These two teams rematch at 7:15 p.m. tonight at The Scope Arena in Norfolk.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Providence - 3 at St. John's - 0
Syracuse - 4 at Hartford - 6
Manchester - 4 at Portland - 3 (OT)
Albany - 1 at Springfield - 0 (SO)

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Binghamton at Albany, 5:00 p.m. ET
Providence at St. John's, 6:30 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Bridgeport, 7:00 p.m. ET
Manchester at Hartford, 7:00 p.m. ET
Portland at Springfield, 7:00 p.m. ET
Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Hershey at Norfolk, 7:15 p.m. ET


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