In the first elimination game of the American Hockey League (AHL) Atlantic Division Final Tuesday night, the Portland Pirates lived to fight another day with a key 6-2 victory. In the North Division Final, the Milwaukee Admirals took a 2-1 series lead after earning a 5-3 victory. Playing at home in the West Division Final, the Manitoba Moose finally got on the board against the Hamilton Bulldogs, winning 5-4. Tonight, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins look to even their series with the Charlotte Checkers at 7 p.m. while the Moose look to even their series with the Bulldogs at 8:30 p.m.
Needing to a make a statement that they wanted to stay alive, the Pirates’ offense exploded in a high-flying first period for 20 shots and four goals. Winger Mark Mancari led the way with one of his two goals and both of his assists in the period. Special teams also played a big part, as each of the first two goals came on the power play while the third came short-handed. Senators’ goaltender Robin Lehner was chased after surrendering four goals in 14:29.
Pirates’ center Mark Voakes put his team up 5-0 with his third of the Calder Cup Playoffs 2:37 of the second period. Senators’ center Jim O’Brien broke Jhonas Enroth’s bid for a shutout at the 5:52 mark of the middle period when he scored his first of the postseason. Enroth only gave up one other goal on 37 Senators’ shots.
The Aeros jumped out to the lead with a power play marker 8:15 into the game. Center Mark Van Guilder sparked the Admirals offense late in the first period with his third of the playoffs at 17:55. Building off the late goal, the Admirals got goals from wingers Ryan Thang and Andreas Thuresson in the second period to take a two-goal into the third period.
Both teams twice traded goals in the third. Center Steve Begin finished with one goal and two assists for the Admirals. Jeremy Smith made 31 stops on 34 Aeros shots for the game.
Tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, the Moose outscored the Bulldogs 4-3 over the final 40 minutes to come away with their first win in the series. Center Marco Rosa, who came into the night leading the Moose in playoff scoring but had yet to break through in this series, bagged three points on the night. They will need at least that much intensity again tonight to even the series.
With the game tied at 1-1, winger Aaron Palushaj gave Bulldogs the lead at 4:40 of the second. It appeared that things would remain that way for the rest of the night until the Moose scored twice in the final 35 seconds of the middle frame to grab the lead. Center Jordan Schroeder scored his first of the playoffs at 19:25 and winger Sergei Shirokov scored on the power play with one second remaining. Rosa recorded his first point of the series on Shirokov’s goal.
Rosa struck 4:40 into the third period on another power play. He would add a second assist on the Moose’s final goal from winger Jason Jaffray at 17:43. Eddie Lack stopped 23 Bulldogs’ shots for the win.
The Checkers stole game three from the Penguins with a strong effort in the second period and great goaltending from Mike Murphy. The Penguins continue to struggle offensively, especially on the man advantage, where they have just two goals in 18 attempts so far. That’s good for an abysmal 11.1 percent for the series. That’s just not going to get the job done in the playoffs at any level.