A power-play goal off the stick of Paul Szczechura midway through the third period helped the Rochester Americans skate to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies on Saturday evening at Ricoh Coliseum. The win marked the Amerks’ fourth victory in the last five outings and brought them back to within seven points of Toronto for the top spot in the North Division with another meeting between the teams on tap for Sunday in Rochester.
Evan Rankin also scored for the Amerks in Saturday’s win while Phil Varone, Colin Stuart and Brayden McNabb each collected an assist. Netminder David Leggio’s performance earned him first star honors, as he turned away 21 of 22 shots for his 19th win of the season and earned an assist on Szczechura’s game-winning goal.
Greg Scott tallied the lone goal for Toronto in the contest, with helpers going to Jesse Blacker and Joe Colborne. Goaltender Ben Scrivens finished with 31 saves in the losing effort.
The Amerks jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 4:04 into the contest as Rankin scored his eighth goal of the season. Stationed at the top of the crease, Rankin was able to jam home the rebound of a shot by Varone from the left half-wall. The result saw both players extend their point streaks to three games. For Rankin, who missed several weeks due to injury before returning to the lineup last weekend, it was his first goal since Dec. 21. Stuart, meanwhile, picked up his third assist in the last two games on the goal.
Toronto responded less than three minutes later to even the score at one when Blacker set up Scott at the bottom of the right circle to net his 16th of the season.
After more than 40 minutes of scoreless play, the Amerks took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 8:57 of the final frame. Szczechura broke through the Toronto defense off the rush and beat Scrivens with a high shot to the blocker side from the slot for a highlight-reel goal. McNabb and Leggio were awarded the assists on the play.
Leggio and the Rochester defense held down the fort over the final half of the third period to preserve the one-goal victory. The Amerks killed off all four Toronto power plays on the night and out-shot the Marlies by a 33-22 margin.
The same two teams meet again on Sunday at The Blue Cross Arena in the back-end of the home-and-home series. The 6:05 p.m. contest will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk, and televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.