Despite a three-goal third period rally and a stellar 49-save goaltending performance by David Leggio, the Rochester Americans’ comeback hopes fell short in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Hershey Bears Sunday evening at Giant Center. The loss capped off a weekend in which Rochester picked up four of a possible six points and brought its record to 16-13-4-3 overall.
CLICK HERE FOR BOX SCORE
The Amerks scored two third period power-play goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit and Zack Kassian’s second goal of the game with 1:01 left in regulation would erase a 3-2 disadvantage and ultimately force overtime.
A night after stopping 42 shots in a 3-2 win at Binghamton, Leggio turned in yet another impressive performance tonight, steering aside a season-high 49 shots between the pipes for the Amerks, who have now picked up points in seven of their last eight games. In two games this weekend for the Amerks, Leggio made 91 saves on 97 shots.
Kassian led the way offensively with three points (2+1), while Paul Szczechura (0+2) also chipped-in a pair of assists. T.J. Brennan scored the other goal for the squad. Kassian finished the weekend with four points in his first two games back with the Amerks since spending considerable time with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
Patrick McNeill (2+0) and Christian Hanson (1+1) contributed two points apiece for Hershey, while netminder Brayden Holtby finished with 28 saves to earn the win.
After outshooting the Amerks 15-3 in the opening 20 minutes, the Bears finally got on the board with a power-play goal at 5:56 of the second period. A slapper from center-point off the stick of Chris Bourque found its way through a maze of bodies in front, where it was tipped by McNeill for his seventh goal of the season.
Hershey’s special teams capitalized once again at 11:32 of the middle frame, as Hanson netted a shorthanded marker. After having his initial wrister on a breakaway turned aside by Leggio, the third-year forward banked his rebound attempt from below the goal-line off the Rochester netminder and into the open net to put the Bears on top 2-0.
As the third period began, the Amerks quickly knotted things with a pair of power-play goals before the frame was five minutes old. First, Kassian put his own rebound just inside the right post off the rush at 15 seconds. With an assist on the play, Phil Varone extended his point-scoring streak to seven games.
Brennan then followed up with a power-play tally of his own at 4:26, making a nice move around a Hershey defender in the high slot and depositing a quick shot to the top shelf for his seventh of the season.
The Bears took the lead back at 12:55, as McNeill cashed in his second goal of the night. The blueliner beat Leggio with a slap shot from the right point, capping off a strong offensive zone shift for his club.
The Amerks rallied back once again to tie the game at three with just over a minute remaining in regulation. With Leggio on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Kassian notched his second goal and third point of the evening. After Alex Biega’s left point shot was blocked in the slot, the puck squirted to Kassian, who slid the rebound into the gaping side of the net.
Leggio continued his outstanding play in the overtime session, as he denied Hershey’s Jacob Micflikier on a penalty shot. The former Amerk attempted a deke to the backhand, but the Rochester goaltender sealed off the five-hole to keep the game tied.
In the shootout, Keith Aucoin and Cody Eakin scored for the Bears, while Kassian potted the only goal for the Amerks.
Rochester returns home to host the North Division rival Toronto Marlies on Friday, January 13 at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:35 p.m. contest will be the fourth of 10 scheduled meetings this season between the two teams and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.