Despite staging yet another incredible late-game comeback, time got the best of the Rochester Americans in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum as Jerry D’Amigo’s second goal of the game with 1:50 remaining proved to be the game-winner, lifting the Toronto Marlies to a 4-3 win and a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals.
For the second straight game, a late goal by the Marlies broke a 3-3 tie in a game that had the makings of an overtime thriller. Marcus Foligno scored a goal and added an assist for Rochester, while T.J. Brennan and Phil Varone each scored a goal for the second time in as many games. David Leggio turned in a 21-save effort in what was his 25th consecutive start between the pipes for the Amerks.
“We’re at one game now, but we’ve been that way the whole time,” said head coach Ron Rolston. “We’ve just been focused on a period at a time, just taking it in small steps. That’s the way it’s got to be on Monday. We have to start with the first period, put periods together and win the periods. Hopefully we can put together a 60-minute game on Monday night.”
D’Amigo netted a pair of goals for the hometown Marlies, placing him atop the AHL in goals and points for the 2012 postseason. Matt Frattin provided a pair of assists and Ben Scrivens turned away 23 shots to earn his second win of the playoffs.
Toronto got off to a quick start, scoring less than two minutes into the game. Marlies forward Juraj Mikus dumped the puck into the Amerks zone, forcing Leggio to go behind the net to play the puck. Philippe Dupuis was there to challenge Leggio, and Dupuis came up with the loose puck and quickly threw it to the front, where D’Amigo took the pass and deposited it into the vacated net for his third goal of the series.
The Marlies went up by a pair late in the chippy first period as Mike Zigomanis picked the top left corner from the high slot for a power-play tally at 18:13. After Jake Gardiner’s initial bid was blocked by Varone, the puck found an unmarked Zigomanis at the top of left circle and the 11-year pro capitalized on the opportunity with a slap-shot over the glove of Leggio to make it a 2-0 game.
Rochester’s first chance to get on the board in the second period came when Paul Szczechura stripped a Toronto defenseman at the blue line and came in all alone on Scrivens, but the Marlies’ netminder was able to get his right pad out to make the save.
Minutes later, the Amerks cut their deficit in half when Foligno scored his second goal of the series. Alex Biega got the puck at the point and passed it down to Foligno in the left corner. The rookie forward then circled around the net and got it to Maxime Legault, who had his shot attempt stopped by Scrivens, but Foligno was there to stuff in the rebound.
The Amerks tied the game at two apiece with 5:25 remaining in the second period when Varone scored his second of the playoffs. Just after their power play expired, the Amerks were still working the puck around the Toronto zone. Brayden McNabb’s shot was tipped by Foligno, and the puck bounced right to Varone, who quickly chipped the puck over Scrivens to knot the game.
Toronto regained a one-goal advantage late in the second period. Matt Frattin made a steal at the Rochester blue line and quickly fired a slap shot on net. Leggio stopped the initial offering, but Deschamps was there to knock in the rebound at 18:22 of the period.
The lead did not hold up long, as the Amerks struck just 3:21 into the third period. Brennan picked up the puck along the blue line and skated toward the net before firing a wrist shot that bounced off of Scrivens and into the net to tie the game at three. Brennan’s second goal of the series was unassisted.
A keep-in along the blue line by Simon Gysbers led to the game-winning goal with just 1:50 remaining in the third period. Gysbers passed it down to the left corner to Frattin, who quickly centered it to D'Amigo for a quick shot the beat Leggio to the short side.
The series shifts back to Rochester for Game 3 at 7:05 p.m. on Monday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The game will be broadcast on Sports 1280 and 107.3 WHTK. Tickets are available by calling 1-855-GO-AMERKS, by visiting www.amerks.com or at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office.