Tonight’s Game: The Rochester Americans and Syracuse Crunch clash for the second time in as many nights tonight as the action shifts down the thruway for the back-end of the home-and-home series at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the sixth of eight scheduled meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
Update (11:15 a.m.): Forward Luke Adam has been reassigned to the Amerks by the Buffalo Sabres.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
2013-14 AHL STANDINGS 2013-14 NHL STANDINGS
2013-14 ROCHESTER STATS 2013-14 BUFFALO STATS
2013-14 SYRACUSE STATS 2013-14 TAMPA BAY STATS
Head-to-Head: After dropping the first four meetings with Syracuse this season, the Amerks finally put one in the win column after earning a 4-1 win over the Crunch in last night’s tilt in Rochester. The Amerks stormed out to a three-goal lead in the first period and tacked on another in the second en route to the victory, Rochester’s first against Syracuse since March 27 of last season. The Amerks, however, remain winless on the road against the Crunch, who maintain the upper-hand having won four of the first five get-togethers and outscoring Rochester 16-10 throughout the season series. Jamie Tardif (3+1) and Phil Varone (0+4), both of whom recorded points in last night’s home win, each show a team-high four points against Syracuse.
Amerks Notes: Rochester (29-20-4-4, 66 points) enters the contest after snapping a three-game skid with a 4-1 win over Syracuse last night at The Blue Cross Arena. Rookie forward Joel Armia led the charge for the Amerks with a goal and an assist, while first-year defenseman Chad Ruhwedel notched two assists and goaltender Nathan Lieuwen stopped 28 shots for his 16th win of the season. Rochester has now collected points in seven of their last nine games and enters the weekend having won 14 of its last 21 games to move within just four points of the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies. More importantly, Rochester remains very much in the playoff picture with a two-point lead over eighth-place Milwaukee and sit just two points back of sixth-place Rockford with 19 games left to play in the regular season. Rochester’s recent surge has seen the Amerks outscore their opposition 68-51 over their last 21 games and earned eight of their last 12 wins by a margin of victory of three goals or more, eight of which have come on home ice. With four points (3+1) over his last five games, Johan Larsson remains Rochester’s most consistent point-getter since his reassignment to the Amerks on Jan. 11, showing 25 points (10+15) over his last 23 games, including goals in five of his last 10. Additionally, much of Rochester’s recent success can be directly attributed to the play of second-year goaltender Lieuwen, who’s won 10 of his last 14 starts and has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of his last 18 games, going 11-5-2 over that span with two shutouts, a 2.03 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. AHL All-Star forward Luke Adam is presently tied for sixth in the AHL with a team-high 24 goals, including 12 on the power-play, which places him third in the league in that category. Varone also continues his torrid pace, ranking 12th in the league in assists (33) and 18th in points (45) to take over the team lead in scoring. Just days after being acquired by the Sabres at the trade deadline on Wednesday, newly acquired forward Nick Deslauriers made his NHL debut in Buffalo’s 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers last night. Deslauriers registered four shots on goal over 15:08 of ice time, including 1:15 of power-play time for the Sabres.
Syracuse Notes: Syracuse (22-25-4-5, 53 points) comes into the matchup looking to avoid the two-game sweep after falling to the Amerks last night in Rochester. Mike Angelidis potted the lone goal for the Crunch and Kristers Gudlevskis, fresh off his Olympic debut with Team Latvia in Sochi, made 21 saves between the pipes in the loss. Despite collecting points in five of their last seven games, a stretch that includes three straight wins at home, the Crunch remain far out of playoff contention and are just one point away from falling to the basement of the Eastern Conference standings. The offensive woes continue to be problematic for Syracuse, who’s scored just 144 times over its first 56 games this season, giving the Crunch the seventh-fewest goal total among AHL teams. Syracuse has also been outscored by a 56-47 margin in the third period this season and shows a league-worst 1-21-0-1 record when trailing after two periods, including a 0-15-0-0 mark on the road. The struggling Syracuse offense, however, was immediately bolstered with Wednesday’s acquisition of forward Jonathan Marchessault, whose 41 points he recorded with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons earlier this season is tops among Crunch skaters. The third-year pro enters play tonight with 11 points (2+9) over his last 13 AHL games.
Up Next: Rochester brings the weekend to a close on Sunday, March 9 when the Oklahoma City Barons make their only appearance of the season at The Blue Cross Arena. The 5:05 p.m. matchup will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The Amerks carry the upper-hand in the season series having earned a 4-3 victory over the Barons in the previous get-together back on Jan. 17 at the Cox Convention Center. The win would be the first of a season-long seven-game winning streak for the Amerks, who also maintain a 5-2-0 all-time record against Oklahoma City dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, the Barons’ first as members of the AHL.