The Rochester Americans scored three times on the power-play and erased a pair of one-goal deficits to defeat the Oklahoma City Barons 4-3 Friday night at the Cox Convention Center. The win is Rochester’s first of the season against an opponent outside the North Division and snaps a brief two-game skid for the Amerks, who improve to 16-15-3-3 on the season and 2-1-0-0 on their current season-long six-game road swing.
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Veteran forward Jamie Tardif made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup, recording two points (1+1), while Phil Varone (1+1) and Johan Larsson (0+2) each finished with two points. Colton Gillies and Dan Catenacci also scored goals and Matt Hackett made 31 saves in the win for the Amerks, who went 3-for-6 on the power-play after being going 0-for-23 over the last five games on the man-advantage.
Tyler Pitlick (1+1) and Taylor Fedun (0+2) each posted two-point nights for the hometown Barons, while Richard Bachman stopped 25 of 29 shots in the losing effort.
For the second straight game on this West Division road swing, the Amerks found themselves in an early hole as Roman Horak spotted Oklahoma City to a 1-0 lead just 4:25 into opening period. With the teams skating four aside, Fedun sent a long stretch pass to Horak, who was streaking up the left wing boards. Horak took the offer in stride, and after gaining the Rochester zone, beat Hackett with a blast to the upper right corner from inside the blueline for his ninth of the season.
The Amerks answered right back just 1:25 later to make it a 1-1 game with a power-play goal from Varone. Circling through the low slot, Varone accepted a pass from Luke Adam off the side boards and put a quick shot inside the right post that eluded an unsuspecting Bachman. The goal would snap a five-game drought for Rochester, which entered the contest 0-for-23 on the man-advantage since its second game of the New Year. Kevin Sundher also tabbed an assist on the play, giving the second-year pro two assists over his last three games.
Despite some exceptional goaltending from Hackett over the next two minutes, the game wouldn’t stay tied long as the Barons scored a power-play goal of their own to reclaim the lead at 9:01. After taking a pass from C.J. Stretch in the near corner, Anton Lander skated into the right circle, and using a screen in front provided by Ryan Hamilton, snapped one past Hackett to put Oklahoma City ahead. Fedun notched his second assist of the game for the Barons, who would take the 2-1 advantage into the first intermission.
The second period belonged to Rochester, which had several chances in the early stages of the frame and eventually evened the game at two when Catenacci cleaned up Tardif’s rebound for his fifth of the season at the 6:13 mark. Tardif, who missed the last nine games due to injury, broke in from the right side only to have his shot denied by the right pad of Bachman. The rebound, however, kicked out to the low slot, where Catenacci banged it home for what proved to be the only score of the period.
The teams combined for three power-play tallies in the third, with the Amerks first capitalizing on a huge 5-on-3 opportunity after a high-sticking double-minor to Pitlick and a goalie interference call to Matthew Ford gave Rochester the two-man advantage for a full two minutes.
The Amerks needed just 1:10 into their fifth power-play to take their first lead of the game when Varone found Tardif stationed at the far post for an easy tap-in past Bachman. Then, just 1:48 later and still on the man-advantage, Rochester put the game out of reach as Gillies redirected a Nick Crawford point shot under the crossbar for a 4-2 cushion and the eventual game-winner.
Pitlick brought Oklahoma City within a goal with 1:35 remaining in the third period, but it would be as close the Barons would get as the Amerks held on for the 4-3 win.
Rochester wraps up its West Division swing on Saturday, Jan. 18 as the Amerks return to the Lone Star State to face the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City. The 8:00 p.m. EST matchup will be the first of two between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.