For the second straight year, the Rochester Americans and Toronto Marlies met in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs at Ricoh Coliseum, where the Amerks opened the 2013 postseason with a 6-3 loss to the defending Western Conference champion Marlies Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto.
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VIDEO: GAME 1 HIGHLIGHTS
The Marlies, despite being outshot 34-18 in the contest, used a four-goal effort from forward Greg Scott to defeat the Amerks in Game 1 of the best-of-five series, which continues with Game 2 on Sunday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum. Jerry D’Amigo added two assists and Greg McKegg also notched two points (1+1) in the win behind a 31-save performance from former Amerk netminder Drew MacIntyre.
Rookie forward Zemgus Girgensons provided a pair of goals in his professional playoff debut while newcomer Johan Larsson collected two assists in his first AHL postseason appearance. Cody McCormick rounded out the scoring for Rochester and David Leggio finished with 12 saves on 17 shots in the loss, which dropped the Amerks to 19-24 all-time in Playoff openers.
The Marlies scored the first goal of the series at the 12:04 mark of the opening period. Scott gained control of the puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Amerks’ end of the ice. Despite having a defender on him, Scott managed to take a wrist shot from the slot that hit the bottom of the cross bar and bounced into the net for his first of the game. Carter Ashton and Dylan Yeo picked up the assists.
Scott would score his second goal of the period just over five minutes later on a Marlies power-play. With Toronto skating on a 5-on-3 advantage, Tim Connolly fired a slap-shot from just inside the blueline that Scott, who was stationed in front of the crease, tipped in for the goal. Connolly and McKegg collected the assists.
The Amerks would answer just 57 seconds later, however, as Girgensons scored his first career playoff goal on a power-play. A shot from the point by Alex Biega went wide, but Larsson picked up the loose puck behind the net and sent a perfect centering feed out front to Girgensons, who collected the pass and wired a wrist shot past MacIntyre to make it a 2-1 game. Rochester nearly tied it late in the first, but MacIntyre turned aside a breakaway chance by Phil Varone.
McCormick tied things up for the Amerks just 1:12 into the second period with a short-handed goal. McCormick and Rick Schofield rushed up ice on a 2-on-1 with McCormick carrying the puck on the left wing side. The veteran forward elected to shoot, and his wrister beat MacIntyre to the stick-side for an unassisted tally.
Toronto came right back, answering less than two minutes later with another power-play goal. Leggio made the initial stop on a shot by Jesse Blacker, but McKegg was there to sweep in the rebound and give the Marlies a 3-2 lead.
Girgensons was credited with his second goal of the game after a lengthy video review that confirmed the goal. The rookie’s shot from just off the left post went over MacIntyre’s shoulder and off the back bar inside the net for the goal, which tied the game at three. Larsson and Mark Mancari earned the assists on the goal. Minutes later, Girgensons’ bid for the hat trick was denied by a behind-the-back glove save by MacIntyre.
Toronto went back up by a goal at the 5:14 mark of the third period. Brad Ross set up Paul Ranger for a slap-shot from the point, and the puck made its way through traffic and found the top corner of the net, giving the Marlies a 4-3 lead. Will Acton also assisted on the goal.
Scott completed the hat trick late in the final frame, taking a centering feed from D’Amigo and lifting a back-hander past a sprawled Leggio to give the Marlies a 5-3 advantage at the 15:22 mark. Scott added his fourth of the game exactly three minutes later with an empty-net goal to give Toronto the 6-3 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series heading into Sunday’s Game 2 rematch.
The 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs continues on Sunday, April 28 as the Amerks and Marlies face-off in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Ricoh Coliseum. The 3:00 p.m. contest will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK and will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel 98.