Saturday's Morning Skate 3/12

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Lehigh Valley is in Hartford this afternoon for a rare 3 p.m. face-off. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The top two teams in the Atlantic Division, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, enjoyed a rare Friday night off in addition to two teams in the bottom of the standings in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Springfield Falcons.

That left the middle of the pack in action Friday night, with final scores that for the most part did the Phantoms a favor. Entering today's games, Lehigh Valley sits eight points behind 5th place Bridgeport for what is currently the final playoff spot in the conference. The Sound Tigers have a game in hand on the Phantoms. Also, the Phantoms trail Portland by just six points for fourth place, although the Pirates have three games in hand on the Phantoms.

The Phantoms will face the 6th place Hartford Wolf Pack this afternoon with a lot on the line for both teams. A win by the Wolf Pack could put them within two points of Portland, while the Phantoms need to start winning games to get themselves back into the playoff conversation.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 3/11's games)

1. Hershey: 60 games played, 34-16-3-7 = 78 points (.650 PCT)
2. W-B/Scranton: 60 games played, 36-19-4-1 = 77 points (.642 PCT)
3. Providence: 59 games played, 29-18-9-3 = 70 points (.593 PCT)
4. Portland: 58 games played, 31-23-3-1 = 66 points (.569 PCT)
5. Bridgeport: 60 games played, 31-23-3-3 = 68 points (.567 PCT)
6. Hartford: 59 games played, 30-27-2-0 = 62 points (.525 PCT)
7. Lehigh Valley: 61 games played, 27-28-3-3 = 60 points (.492 PCT)
8. Springfield: 58 games played, 21-30-3-4 = 49 points (.422 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

Bridgeport - 2 at Syracuse - 5

The Syracuse Crunch extended their win streak to three straight games Friday night with a 5-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Luke Witkowski and Yanni Gourde each tallied a pair of goals in the win for the Crunch, while Tanner Richard added two assists. Adam Wilcox stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced to improve to 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

In his return to the AHL after refusing to play, Jonathan Drouin tallied an assist and was credited with three shots on goal playing on a line with Tye McGinn and Matthew Peca.

Bracken Kearns tallied his team-leading 22nd of the year for Bridgeport to cut the deficit to 2-1 late in the opening frame, but that's as close as the Sound Tigers would get. Christopher Gibson stopped 27 of 31 in the loss.

Bridgeport heads to Wilkes-Barre to begin a home and home series with the Penguins, while the Crunch remain in Syracuse to host Rochester Saturday night.

Toronto - 9 at Portland - 2

For the fourth time this season, the Toronto Marlies tallied nine or more goals in another dominating performance to earn two points over the Portland Pirates.

Sam Carrick and Tobias Lindberg tallied two goals each, while five other skaters tallied a goal for the Marlies in the win. Mark Arcobello (1G-3A) and Connor Brown (1G-3A) led the way offensively with matching four point nights. Antoine Bibeau picked up his 21st win of the season with a 23-save effort.

The Pirates got on the board late in the first period to cut the deficit to 3-1 heading into the middle frame, but the Marlies continued to pour it on - tallying five second period goals to break open the game.

Portland hopes for a better outcome against last place Springfield, while Toronto hopes to continue to roll on their weekend road trip in New England with a Saturday night matchup in Providence.

Hartford - 3 at Providence - 2 (SO)

In a back-and-forth game at the Dunkin Donuts Center, the Hartford Wolf Pack struck the final blow in a shootout win over the Providence Bruins.

After Alexander Khokhlachev gave the PBruins a 1-0 lead heading into the third period, a pair of tallies in the final frame from Adam Tambellini appeared to be enough to lift the Wolf Pack to a 2-1 win. Instead, Frank Vatrano tied the game at 2-2 with about 30 seconds left in regulation. Vatrano's 30th of the season forced overtime and the eventual shootout.

Magnus Hellberg (32 saves - 34 shots) won the goaltender's duel with Jeremy Smith (34 saves - 36 shots) by stopping four of the five Providence shooters in the shootout to give Hartford the extra point in the standings.

Hartford heads home to host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a Saturday afternoon game, while the Providence Bruins remain home to host the red-hot Toronto Marlies.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Albany - 3 at Binghamton - 2
Utica - 1 at Rochester - 3

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Lehigh Valley at Hartford - 3:00 p.m. ET
Utica at Albany - 5:00 p.m. ET
Hershey at St. John's - 6:00 p.m. ET
Portland at Springfield - 7:00 p.m. ET
Rochester at Syracuse - 7:00 p.m. ET
Toronto at Providence - 7:05 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET


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