Saturday's Morning Skate 2/13

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Lehigh Valley takes on Utica tonight. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The window of opportunity for teams towards the bottom of the standings is beginning to close as the final two months of the season wind down. Points are now at a premium. Chances and mistakes are magnified. The intensity ramps up with every shift.

That's the name of the game in the American Hockey League and with Valentines Day approaching there is no love lost on the ice, just two teams battling for points in an effort to either solidify their playoff position or try to make a last ditch effort toward making a postseason push.

The Atlantic Division has some of the hottest teams in the league right now, as Providence hasn't lost in regulation their last 15 games (11-0-3-1) and Bridgeport carries a seven-game win streak into their game tonight against a Hartford team that had won nine in a row before last week.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 2/12's games)

1. W-B/Scranton: 48 games played, 32-14-1-1 = 66 points (.688 PCT)
2. Hershey: 51 games played, 27-14-3-7 = 64 points (.627 PCT)
3. Portland: 46 games played, 27-18-1-0 = 55 points (.598 PCT)
4. Providence: 48 games played, 23-15-8-2 = 56 points (.583 PCT)
5. Bridgeport: 48 games played, 26-19-2-1 = 55 points (.573 PCT)
6. Hartford: 48 games played, 24-22-2-0 = 50 points (.521 PCT)
7. Lehigh Valley: 50 games played, 23-24-2-1 = 49 points (.490 PCT)
8. Springfield: 46 games played, 18-22-3-3 = 42 points (.457 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

Portland - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 1

Despite registering a season high 46 shots, the Phantoms came up short to the visiting Portland Pirates behind a game-stealing performance from All-Star goaltender Mike McKenna.

Not only did the Pirates netminder stop all but one of the 46 shots he faced, but McKenna also tallied two assists - the second of which was a shot attempt at an empty net that almost had enough on it to be a goal. Rocco Grimaldi tallied a goal and an assist, while rookie Kyle Rau also scored in the win for Portland, which snapped a three-game losing skid.

Chris Conner tallied the lone goal for Lehigh Valley, while defenseman Andrew MacDonald extended his personal points scoring streak to nine games (0G-14A).

The Phantoms remain home to host the Utica Comets Saturday, while Portland travels to W-B/Scranton

Hershey - 2 at Providence - 5

Two of the hottest teams in the AHL met in Providence Friday, with the PBruins extending their unbeaten streak to 15 games in dominating fashion over the Bears.

Hershey actually grabbed an early 1-0 lead under three minutes into the contest before Providence caught fire for five straight goals to break open the game. Seth Griffith had a game-high three points (1G-2A), while rookie sensation Frank Vatrano tallied a goal and an assist giving him 20 goals in just 18 AHL games.

Hershey continues on their road trip Saturday in Springfield, while Providence enjoys a rare Saturday night off.

W-B/Scranton - 3 at Hartford - 1

At the XL Center in Hartford, the Penguins were able to come away with the victory after jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

Kael Mouillierat and Anton Zlobin tallied goals in the opening two periods for the Penguins, and while Nicklas Jensen brought the Wolf Pack within one midway through the third Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was able to hold on behind 26 saves by Matt Murray.

The Penguins return home for a pair of games against Portland, while Hartford heads down to Bridgeport to take on a red-hot Sound Tigers team riding a seven-game win streak.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Binghamton - 2 at Utica - 5
Albany - 1 at Rochester - 0

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Rochester at Albany - 5:00 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Binghamton (in Ottawa) - 5:00 p.m. ET
Toronto at St. John's - 6:00 p.m. ET
Hartford at Bridgeport - 7:00 p.m. ET
Hershey at Springfield - 7:00 p.m. ET
Utica at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Portland at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET


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