AMERKS STAVE OFF ELIMINATION WITH 7-2 ROUT OVER WOLVES IN GAME 4
After coming up empty-handed in last night’s Game 3 loss, the Rochester Americans erupted for four goals in the first period and staved off elimination with a 7-2 rout over the Chicago Wolves in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Friday at Allstate Arena. The win knots the best-of-five series up at 2-2 and forces a decisive Game 5 matchup between the two teams on Sunday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m. EST. VIDEO: CHADD CASSIDY POSTGAME
The seven goals scored by Rochester marked the team’s highest offensive output in a playoff game since an 8-4 win over Abbotsford on April 19, 2010 and marked the Amerks’ largest margin of victory in the postseason since a 6-1 win over the Heat just two days later.
Rookie forward Joel Armia led the Amerks with a four-point (2+2) effort, while team captain Kevin Porter notched three assists and Brayden Irwin scored twice in the win. Nick Crawford and Johan Larsson also found the back of the net while Frederick Roy rounded out the scoring, netting his first professional postseason goal in his American Hockey League playoff debut. Andrey Makarov earned his fourth straight start in the postseason and stopped 28 of 30 shots he faced to move Rochester within one win of advancing to the second round for the first time since the 2005 playoffs.
Nathan Longpre and Christian Hanson each scored for the host Wolves while Jake Allen and Matt Climie combined for 25 saves in the losing effort.
The goals came fast and furious to start the game, with the Amerks jumping out to a 2-0 lead just 1:39 into the contest. Armia got the scoring started 91 seconds in when he capitalized on a rebound opportunity. Porter led the rush into the Chicago zone and chipped a pass over to Nick Deslauriers. Deslauriers fired a shot on goal that was turned away by Allen, but Porter was first to the loose puck and directed it over to Armia, who was near the right post. Armia then jammed the puck past Allen on the short-side to give Rochester a 1-0 lead.
On the ensuing face-off, Rochester dumped the puck into the Chicago end, and the Wolves attempted to clear the puck up the right wing boards. Crawford intercepted the clearing attempt along the wall and, perhaps catching the Chicago netminder off guard, immediately sent a shot on goal that eluded Allen and gave the Amerks a 2-0 lead. Crawford’s unassisted tally gave Rochester two goals in a span of just eight seconds inside the game’s first two minutes.
Chicago responded at the 5:00 mark of the opening frame to cut its deficit in half. Tyler Shattock created a turnover along the Rochester blueline and got the puck to Longpre, who raced up ice on a 2-on-1. Longpre elected to shoot on the odd-man rush, and his initial offering was stopped by Makarov. Longpre got his own rebound and swept it in, making it a 2-1 game.
Armia picked up his second goal of the night later in the first period on the power-play. With the Amerks working the puck around the offensive zone, Porter found Armia alone in the high slot, and the rookie forward picked the top corner with a quick wrist shot to put the Amerks back up by two goals. Larsson also assisted on the power-play goal.
In the closing minutes of the first period, Rochester took a 4-1 lead on a goal by Irwin. Just as a penalty to Chicago was expiring, Rasmus Ristolainen took a shot from the left half-wall. As Irwin was battling with a Wolves defenseman in front of the net, he was able to get the blade of his stick on the shot and deflect it past Allen.
Roy, who was making his AHL playoff debut in the contest, gave the Amerks a 5-1 lead in the second period. After serving a two-minute minor for boarding, Roy jumped out of the penalty box and received a long pass from Armia, sending him in all alone on Allen. Roy made no mistake in snapping a shot past the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year, which resulted in the first in-game goaltending change all season for the Wolves as Climie was brought in to relieve Allen.
Hanson cut the Chicago deficit to 5-2 less than three minutes later when he redirected a shot from the point by Joe Corvo past Makarov at the 16:10 mark of the second period. Rochester was able to regain its four-goal lead by adding a power play goal late in the middle frame. Irwin was credited with his second goal of the night after the puck was knocked in by a Wolves defenseman.
Larsson tacked on a power-play goal late in the third period with a nifty move after he found himself all alone in front. Armia and Porter each collected an assist on the goal as the Amerks cruised to a 7-2 win and avoided elimination.
The decisive Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Amerks and Wolves is scheduled for Sunday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m. ET at Allstate Arena in Chicago. The game will be televised in Rochester and Buffalo on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, while the radio broadcast can be heard on WHAM 1180.