3/1 Recap: Baptiste in form with playoffs approaching

Nick Baptiste kept his excellent second half going Saturday, scoring his 41st goal of the year as Sudbury lost to Niagara 5-2. The marker gives the speedy right winger nine goals in his last eight games for a total of 80 points in 60 total contests. With the odds against him, Baptiste will need to accelerate his recent pace with nine goals over the final six regular season games in order to achieve the 50-goal mark. Baptiste has accomplished the feat of eight goals over a six-game stretch twice this season. The Wolves currently hold a two-point lead on North Bay for first place in the OHL's Central Division.

Eric Locke (-2) notched an assist as Saginaw was defeated by Erie 4-2. Locke has points in four straight games for a line of 21-32-53 in an injury-shortened 42-game campaign. Spirit centerman Justin Kea was unable to get on the score sheet, putting an end to his four-game point streak in his return from a hand injury. The matchup could've been a preview of an opening round playoff series with both teams already having clinched.

Justin Bailey missed his eighth straight game as Kitchener dropped a 2-1 decision at Sault Ste. Marie. The Rangers' leading offensive producer this season with 25 goals and 43 points, Bailey came back to Western New York this week for a visit with the Sabres medical staff regarding his upper body injury, and is already listed as out for Tuesday's date with Guelph. At this point you have to wonder if we've seen the last of him this season, with the Rangers 10 points back of the final Western Conference playoff spot with just six games left on the regular season schedule.

In the WHL, Logan Nelson (-1) was held without a point as Victoria held on for a 2-1 win at Prince George. The Royals are all but locked into the third position in the Western Conference playoff race, 12 points ahead of fourth-place Seattle with six games remaining.

Anthony Florentino scored his fourth goal of the year and first game winner of his NCAA career as Providence ended the Hockey East regular season schedule with a 3-2 victory at Maine. The power play tally snaps Florentino's 10-game point drought, leaving the freshman defender with nine points (4+5) through 25 games. With a third-place finish in the league standings, the Friars get an opening round bye next weekend before hosting a best-of-three quarterfinal series beginning on Friday, March 14. 

Sean Malone connected for his sixth goal of the year on the power play as Harvard finished off the regular season with a 3-2 loss at Cornell. The goal gives the freshman pivot 19 points in 29 games. The Crimson open the ECAC playoffs next weekend with a best-of-three matchup at Yale.

Christian Isackson sat out for the fourth game in a row as Minnesota earned their second consecutive B1G sweep with a 2-1 win over Penn State. The Gophers will complete the conference schedule on the road with sets at Ohio State and Michigan.

In the USHL, Connor Hurley picked up a pair of power play assists as Green Bay downed Omaha 5-2. Hurley, who rounded out his night with slashing and boarding minors, has 24 points (7+17) in 23 games since joining the Gamblers, including 11 assists with the man advantage. The win pulls Green Bay even with Chicago for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a dozen games left on the schedule.

Cal Petersen served as backup as Waterloo fell in a shootout 3-2 at Muskegon. Petersen (24-5-3) tops the league in wins while posting a 2.51 GAA and .916 save%. The Black Hawks, who have already clinched a post-season berth, are one point behind Omaha for the top position in the Western Conference standings with 13 games left to catch them.

Judd Peterson missed his sixth game with a lower body injury as Cedar Rapids was bested by Lincoln 5-2. Despite his absence, Peterson's 15 goals remains tops among all RoughRiders skaters. Cedar Rapids is currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference.

In Sweden, Linus Ullmark made 31 saves but received no goal support as MODO was blanked by Farjestads 1-0 in key game between teams looking to avoid the best-of-three play-in round. Ullmark has lost his last three starts, slipping to 15-15 on the year with a 1.97 GAA (3rd in SHL) and .935 save% (1st). It's going to be a wild scramble down to the wire, with MODO and Brynas currently tied for seventh place (76 pts), one point behind Farjestads and Leksands (77 pts) with all teams having three games left to play.

In the ECHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc recorded an assist as Gwinnett skated to 5-4 win over Florida. Connor Knapp got the start in the Everblades' net, but was pulled after allowing four goals through forty minutes, including two on the power play in the final minute of the middle frame.

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