The Rochester Americans extended their winning streak to four games on Wednesday night by defeating the Oklahoma City Barons 4-3 in a shootout. The win was Rochester’s second in as many nights over the AHL’s top team and draws them to within one point of first place in the North Division.
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Defenseman T.J. Brennan opened the scoring for Rochester in the first period and closed out the game by netting the shootout-winning goal in the sixth round. Jacob Lagace scored two goals on the night while Phil Varone and Marcus Foligno each collected two assists. Goaltender David Leggio made 22 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping four of six shootout attempts to earn the win in goal.
Tonight’s game closed out a two-game road trip to Oklahoma City for the Amerks, who defeated the Barons 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday before rallying for a 4-3 shootout win on Wednesday. Rochester (15-12-4-1, 35 points) now trails the Toronto Marlies by just one point for first place in the North Division.
The Amerks struck first in the game at 7:01 of the opening period as Brennan’s blast from the blue line made its way through traffic and beat Oklahoma City goaltender Yann Danis for his sixth goal of the season. Varone and Alex Biega each picked up an assist on the play, while Brennan’s goal gave him at least one point in each of his last six games. He’s also recorded a point in eight of the last nine games he has appeared in for the Amerks, collecting five goals and five assists in that span.
Oklahoma City tied the game at one later in the first period by striking 22 seconds into a power play opportunity. Magnus Paajarvi, recently assigned to the Barons from the Edmonton Oilers, skated to the right face-off dot and unleashed a wrist shot that was blocked by Amerks defenseman Dennis Persson. The puck, however, bounced up into the air and landed right in the slot, where Barons forward Ryan Keller corralled it and swept a shot past Leggio to get his team on the board.
The Barons took their first lead of the game when they scored their second power play goal of the contest, this one at 12:57 of the second period. After Travis Turnbull had a terrific shorthanded opportunity at one end, the Barons rushed back the other way. Defenseman Dan Ringwald took the puck at the top of the faceoff circles and fired a shot between two Amerk defensemen that found its way past Leggio for the goal.
Lagace, who had been robbed by Danis with Rochester skating at a two-man advantage earlier in the second, got another opportunity late in the middle frame and buried it. After Foligno caused a turnover in the neutral zone, Varone skated in and took a shot on goal. Danis got a piece of it, but Lagace was camped at the right post and tapped in the rebound to tie the game at two goals apiece with just 1:59 left in the period. Varone picked up his second assist of the game while Foligno also recorded a helper.
Just 21 seconds into the third period, Oklahoma City broke the 2-2 tie as Keller notched his second goal of the game. Helmer had the puck deep in the zone along the right wing boards and threw the puck toward the net. Keller had broken to the net and redirected the pass into the Amerk goal for his second of the game while Helmer picked up his third assist of the night.
The Amerks refused to quit, even as they successfully killed off a five-minute Barons power play just minutes after falling behind 3-2. Then, at 10:11 of the period, Lagace tipped home a pass from Foligno to tie the game at three. The goal was Lagace’s second of the night and ninth of the season, while Foligno tallied his second assist of the night. Drew Schiestel, who scored the overtime game-winner on Tuesday night, also registered an assist.
After the teams remained scoreless for the rest of the third period and overtime, the game was decided in a shootout, which went six rounds and ended when Brennan snapped a shot past Danis to give Rochester its fourth consecutive victory. Lagace and Jonathan Parker also scored for the Amerks in the shootout while Leggio stopped four of six Oklahoma City attempts.
The Amerks return to The Blue Cross Arena this Friday to host the Hamilton Bulldogs at 7:35 p.m. in Rochester’s final game before the New Year. The game will be broadcast on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.