The Rochester Americans rallied from a two-goal third period deficit to force overtime, but a penalty shot goal in the extra frame by Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Doug Janik gave the Griffins a 5-4 overtime win over the Amerks on Tuesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. A crowd of 5,531 watched as Luke Adam and TJ Brennan scored third period goals to tie the game and help Rochester earn a point to remain in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
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“I was happy with how we bounced back early in the third period after they scored four straight (goals),” said Head Coach Ron Rolston. “The positive side is that we were able to get a point.”
Corey Tropp scored the first two Amerk goals on the night before Adam and Brennan each lit the lamp. Netminder David Leggio turned away 22 of 26 shots while making his 21st straight start.
Tomas Tatar led the way for Grand Rapids with two goals and an assist while Janik added a goal and an assist of his own. Garnet Exelby and Fabian Brunnstrom also scored as Thomas McCollum finished with 36 saves in goal.
A pair of goals from Tropp less than three minutes apart in the opening period gave the Amerks an early 2-0 advantage. First, at 12:54 of the opening period, Nick Crawford head-manned the puck to Tropp as the Griffins were changing and Tropp made a nifty toe drag around a sliding defender before sending a wrist shot to the top shelf. Then, at 15:47, Szczechura found Tropp all alone at the weak-side post with a feed from the right wing boards to slam home his second straight tally.
Grand Rapids, however, battled back to even the score at two before the first period came to a close. An Exelby wrister from the high slot eluded traffic and got past Leggio at 16:46, and Tatar followed up 44 seconds later when he found himself alone in the slot and beat Leggio with a quick forehand.
The Griffins took their first lead of the night 6:26 into the second period as Brunnstrom gained the offensive blueline and buried a wrister from the left circle short side on Leggio.
Tatar netted his second goal of the game to double the Griffins’ cushion to 4-2 at 9:55 of the second. A left point shot from Janik rebounded off of Leggio right to Tatar’s stick for a tap-in from the mouth of the crease.
Two goals in the opening six minutes of the third period for Rochester evened the score at 4-4. Adam deflected a point shot from McNabb past McCollum at 3:42, then Brennan responded with a blast from the point off a face-off at 5:23. Brennan’s goal tied him for first place among AHL blueliners with 16, while Rankin and Varone each picked up assists to extend their point streaks to four games.
Janik won the game for Grand Rapids on a penalty shot 1:46 into overtime. The former Amerk weaved his way in on Leggio and deposited a wrister to the blocker side.
Rochester takes on the Syracuse Crunch in its regular season home finale on Friday, April 13 at
The Blue Cross Arena on Fan Appreciation Night. The 7:35 p.m. contest will be the 10th and final meeting between the longtime rivals this season and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet Channel 26.