The Rochester Americans rallied back from a 3-1 late second period deficit and eventually used the shootout to overcome the Grand Rapids Griffins by a score of 4-3 on Saturday night at Van Andel Arena. The victory was the first for Rochester of the weekend’s three-in-three and improves its record to 18-15-5-3 overall.
Nick Crawford, Jacob Lagace, and Zack Kassian chipped in a goal apiece in regulation for the Amerks, with Paul Szczechura, Jonathan Parker, and Shawn Szydlowski finding the back of the net in the skills competition. Netminder David Leggio turned away 34 of 37 shots sent his way by the Griffins in the game, while also denying the final three shooters in the shootout to preserve the win.
Tomas Tatar and Francis Pare each contributed a goal and an assist for the Griffins, with defenseman Brian Lashoff also adding a tally of his own. Goaltender Joey MacDonald finished with 35 saves between the pipes in the losing effort.
The Amerks struck first in the contest at 9:09 of the opening period to jump out to a 1-0 advantage. Off the rush from the left-wing boards, Marcus Foligno fed Crawford streaking through the slot, setting him up for a quick wrister that beat MacDonald low to the blocker side.
Grand Rapids responded to even the score at one apiece just over two minutes later, capitalizing on a broken play in the midst of a 3-on-2 rush. Pare’s initial shot from the middle of the slot was blocked by a Rochester defender, but the puck fluttered in the air and right to the stick of Tatar, who deposited it into the vacant side of the net.
The Griffins opened up their first lead of the evening 2-1 at 4:06 of the second period as Tatar sent a pass through the right circle from behind the net to Pare, who buried his seventh goal of the season.
Grand Rapids tallied a power-play goal at 15:16 of the middle frame for a 3-1 advantage as Lashoff sent a snapshot from the high slot over the glove of Leggio, who appeared to be screened on the play.
Rochester answered just over a minute later to pull-back to within one as Kassian scored his 10th of the year from Brock Matheson and Corey Fienhage. The tally represented Kassian’s fourth in three games against the Griffins this season and also extended his current point scoring streak to three games.
The Amerks lit the lamp for the second straight time 4:33 into the final frame as Mark Voakes converted a breakaway opportunity to tie things up at three. Alex Biega was the beneficiary of a turnover by the Griffins defense and sent Voakes in all alone to tuck a backhand just inside the right post.
After a scoreless overtime in which Leggio slid post-to-post to rob Joakim Andersson in the final minute, Rochester came out on top in the shootout with Szydlowski netting the game-clincher in the fourth round.
The same two teams are idle until they resume their two-game set on Wednesday, January 25 with a 7:00 p.m. bout at Van Andel Arena. Fans can tune in for the live broadcast on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.