(Hartford, CT) – The Rochester Americans (18-22-0-1) scored twice in the second period to wipe out a 1-0 deficit and then added an empty-net tally with 1:02 left in regulation to comeback and defeat the Hartford Wolf Pack (14-23-3-1) by a 3-1 score at the XL Center Saturday.
Justin Bailey and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda staked Rochester to a 2-1 lead during the two-goal middle frame while forward Tim Kennedy capped off the scoring on the night to push his point streak to three games. Amerks goaltender Linus Ullmark made timely saves over the course of the night and 25 overall in the contest to improve his record to 16-13-1. The Swedish netminder has won five of his last six starts and eight of his last 11. His 16 wins are just one shy of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Tristan Jarry, who presently leads the AHL in wins amongst goalies.
Marek Hrivik opened the scoring on the night for the Wolf Pack during the first period and Brandon Halverson made 27 saves of the 29 he faced.
Hartford controlled the opening period, outshooting the Amerks 14-6 and taking a 1-0 lead courtesy of Hrivik’s ninth of the season. Hrivik fired a shot from the top of the left circle and beat Ullmark over the glove with 10:26 left in the opening stanza.
The Amerks, however, responded in the second frame with a pair of tallies to gain a lead they would hold onto for the reminder of the contest.
Following a give-and-go in the near corner of the offensive zone with Jean Dupuy, Muzito-Bagenda attempted a backhanded shot that hit the side of the cage. The rookie forward tracked down his own rebound and wrapped around the net before slipping the puck past Halverson to tie the score at one with 10:47 left in the middle period.
Later in the stanza, a Wolf Pack forward rang a shot off the cross-bar only to have the rebound find a waiting Cole Schneider at the left circle inside the Rochester blueline. Schneider sprinted towards the Hartford zone and hit Bailey streaking down the right side of the ice. Bailey beat a Hartford defender in the process and upped his career-long six game goal-scoring streak to seven when he beat Halverson with just 1:24 seconds left in the period. The tally was assisted by Schneider and Brady Austin, who also finished with a plus-two rating on the night.
With his 17th goal of the season, Bailey ties Nick Baptiste for the team-lead and is currently tied for fifth in the AHL in goals. Bailey also has the longest goal-scoring streak in the league this season at seven games as he nears his second straight 20-goal campaign. In addition, the Amerks reigning Rookie of the Year owns a personal-best eight-game point streak that dates back to Dec. 16, totaling 12 points on nine goals and three assists over that span.
The Amerks fired 16 shots compared to the Wolf Pack’s six during the second period and led 2-1 after 40 minutes then swarmed the Wolf Pack during the final 20 minutes. Rochester limited Hartford’s attack as Ullmark turned aside all six shots he faced to preserve the win.
Prior to the end of regulation and in a last-ditch effort to knot the contest, Hartford pulled Halverson in favor of the extra skater, but Kennedy ended any hopes when he added an empty-net goal with 1:02 left to seal the 3-1 for Rochester.
The Amerks close out their season-long four-game road swing on Sunday afternoon with a 3:00 p.m. matinee against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. Sunday’s matchup will be the first of four on the season between the two teams and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Muzito-Bagenda (6), Bailey (17), Kennedy (2)
HFD: Hrivik (9)
RCH: Ullmark – 25/26 (W)
HFD: Halverson – 26/28 (L)
RCH: PP (0/4) / PK (2/2)
HFD: PP (0/2) / PK (4/4)