The Rochester Americans and Toronto Marlies finished off their weekend home-and-home series Saturday afternoon in Toronto, where the Marlies came away with a 3-2 victory over the Amerks. After the Amerks took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period, Toronto responded by scoring twice in the closing minutes of the second and held on in the third period despite a barrage of shots from the Amerks.
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Marcus Foligno and T.J. Brennan each scored for Rochester while Brayden McNabb recorded two assists and David Leggio, making his third straight start in goal, made 25 saves. Derek Whitmore and Paul Szczechura each collected an assist as well for the Amerks, who out-shot the Marlies 14-3 in the final 20 minutes and 34-28 for the game.
Rochester opened the scoring just 1:34 into the contest as Foligno delivered an absolute blast from outside the blue line that caught Marlies goaltender Mark Owuya by surprise to give the Amerks an early 1-0 lead. After a turnover in the Rochester zone, McNabb moved the puck up ice to Whitmore stationed on the right wing boards. As Whitmore proceeded through the neutral zone, he threaded a pass to Foligno streaking up the middle and the rookie forward boomed a shot to the back of the net before Owuya could even square up for the save.
The Marlies knotted the game at one late in the opening frame off a tricky bounce that resulted in Toronto’s Simon Gysbers’ third goal of the season. As Marcel Mueller gained entrance into the Amerks zone, he left a drop-pass for Nazem Kadri on the left half-wall. Feeling pressure from Amerks defenseman Alex Biega, Kadri threw a shot on goal, but the puck caromed out to the point, where Gysbers rifled a slap shot from the top of the circle that beat Leggio low stick-side at 16:40.
Amerks captain Colin Stuart nearly made it a 2-1 game in the early minutes of the second, but his partial breakaway was interrupted by a Marlies defender as he became the victim of a last-minute hook. Awarded a penalty shot by referee David Banfield, Stuart appeared to have Owuya beat, but his shot was turned aside by the Marlies netminder to keep the teams tied at one apiece.
Rochester regained the lead at 11:24 of the second stanza as Brennan got a piece of McNabb’s shot from the point for his third goal of the season. Szczechura found McNabb open at the top of the slot and the rookie blueliner fired a shot through traffic where Brennan, back from his first career NHL recall with the Buffalo Sabres, deflected it past Owuya at the goal-mouth. McNabb earned his second point of the game, becoming the AHL’s top scorer among rookie defensemen with 10 points (1+9) in 18 games. Brennan, meanwhile, has two goals and an assist in his last two games.
The Amerks’ lead would be short-lived as the Marlies, who rallied to overcome deficits in their previous two meetings with Rochester, scored back-to-back goals in 19 seconds to take a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission. Korbinian Holzer scored his first goal of the season on the power play at 18:50, banking a shot off Leggio that first recoiled off the end boards before Mike Zigomanis swept in Ryan Hamilton’s rebound at 19:09 for his fourth of the campaign. Gysbers picked up his second and third points of the contest with assists on both Toronto tallies.
The Marlies’ win was their second in as many nights over the Amerks after Toronto took the opening game of the home-and-home series by a 2-1 score on Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. Each of Rochester’s losses to Toronto this season have come by one goal. The Amerks now trail the Marlies for first place in the North Division by two points.
The Amerks return home on Friday, November 25 as they host the Albany Devils for a post-Thanksgiving Day bash at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:35 p.m. contest will be the first of four scheduled meetings this season between the intrastate rivals and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.