The Rochester Americans rallied for a 3-2 shootout victory over the Houston Aeros on Saturday night at the Toyota Center. For the third time in the last seven games, Amerks defenseman Alex Biega lifted Rochester to victory by scoring the shootout-winning goal.
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The Amerks faced a pair of one-goal deficits, but came back to tie the game both times to eventually force overtime. Rookie forward Colin Jacobs scored his first professional goal for the Amerks one night after making his AHL debut while Nick Tarnasky also scored in regulation for Rochester. Goaltender David Leggio turned aside 38 of 40 shots through regulation and overtime before stopping three of five Houston skaters in the shootout to earn his AHL-leading 33rd win of the season. In addition to netting the shootout-deciding goal, Biega also picked up an assist in the victory.
Chad Rau and Zack Phillips each scored for the Aeros while netminder Cody Reichard finished with 27 saves on the night.
The Aeros took a 1-0 lead at the 11:26 mark of the first period with a goal that immediately resulted in a fight in the corner. Rau and Carson McMillan entered the Amerk zone on a two-on-one, and Rau fired a wrist shot from the slot into the top right corner of the net for the goal. McMillan, who was driving the net, crashed into Leggio to set off a scrum in the corner, where Frederick Roy and Dan DaSilva engaged in a lengthy tilt.
Rochester tied the game just over eight minutes into the second period on Jacobs’ first career AHL goal. Matt Ellis won an offensive zone face-off and pushed the puck to his right to get it to Jacobs, who was stationed in the slot. The rookie immediately fired a shot on goal and beat the netminder high to the glove side to knot the game at one apiece.
Houston regained its one-goal lead later in the second period with a power play goal from Phillips. After working the puck around the Rochester zone, Marco Scandella took a shot from the right face-off circle. Leggio made the save on Scandella, but the puck bounced to the opposite side of the net, where Phillips was able to pick up the rebound and deposit it into the Amerks net. Scandella and Mikael Granlund earned the assists on the goal.
Before the second period came to a close, however, the Amerks would once again tie the game. Adam Pardy carried the puck all the way up the ice and circled toward the back of the Houston net before sending a pass out in front to a streaking Tarnasky, who was able to get his stick on the puck and re-direct it through Reichard’s pads. The goal was Tarnasky’s 14th of the season, tying his career-high for goals in an AHL season. Biega also collected an assist on the goal.
Following a scoreless third period and overtime session, the teams headed to a shootout. After each team scored twice through the first four rounds, Johan Larsson hit the post in round five to set the stage for Biega, who beat Reichard with a quick shot to the glove side to clinch the Rochester victory.
Rochester wraps up its season-long five-game road trip on Sunday, March 24 when the Amerks visit the San Antonio Rampage for a Western Conference showdown at the AT&T Center. The 5:30 p.m. EST contest will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.