The Rochester Americans scored two power-play goals early in the third period and rode another brilliant performance from rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov en route to a 3-1 win over the visiting Toronto Marlies Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The win is the fourth in a row for the surging Amerks, who have yet to lose in April and jump to seventh in the Western Conference standings with five games remaining in the 2013-14 regular season.
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Special teams success was the key to victory for Rochester, which survived nine penalty kills against the Marlies and finished 2-of-6 with the man-advantage. Luke Adam continued his strong play against Toronto this season, tallying his team-leading 28th goal of the campaign early in the third period and marking his ninth point of the season series. Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and Kevin Porter also scored goals for the Amerks and Phil Varone added two assists, bringing his team-leading point total to 57, and stretching his point streak to four games.
Makarov, who has become a staple between the pipes for the Amerks, started his seventh consecutive game in net and improved a personal winning streak to four games with a 27-save effort.
Josh Leivo scored Toronto’s lone goal late in the first period and Christopher Gibson stopped 18 shots in the loss for the Marlies, who have now dropped two straight to the Amerks.
Porter’s goal to open the scoring at 7:38 of the first period was a pretty one, as the veteran forward danced around a Toronto defender along the boards and snuck his way through the slot before beating Gibson along the ice with a low back-hand inside the far post. The Amerks’ one-goal advantage was short-lived, however, as Leivo capitalized on a costly turnover to score on a breakaway just 27 seconds later to even the contest at 1-1.
After a relatively quiet second period that saw both teams tighten up defensively, the Amerks power-play stepped up early in the third to help Rochester regain its lead. Peter Holland was the culprit for Toronto, as goalie interference and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties provided the Amerks with a four-minute power-play opportunity.
The Amerks quickly set up in Toronto’s zone to begin the extended man-advantage, and with Adam parked in front, Varone took a low shot that was deflected by Adam and into the net, giving the Amerks a 2-1 lead 3:23 into the third period.
Rochester’s power-play struck again just 3:21 later when Nick Tuzzolino swung a pass across the blueline to Gauthier-Leduc, who in turn ripped a slap-shot through traffic that found the upper right corner for his third score of the season, putting the Amerks ahead 3-1.
Some tense moments ensued in the final minutes of regulation, as an apparent save from Makarov off a quality chance in front needed a second look to determine if the puck ever crossed the goal-line. Fortunately for the Amerks, the official review confirmed the original call of no goal which effectively ended Toronto’s comeback attempt and preserved the 3-1 win for Rochester.
Rochester gets right back to work on Saturday, April 12 as the Amerks travel north of the border to close out their season series with the Hamilton Bulldogs at the FirstOntario Centre. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the eighth and final meeting between the North Division rivals and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.