(Albany, NY) – Trailing 3-0 after the first period, the Rochester Americans (19-24-0-2) fired back with five straight unanswered goals, including three in the second period, to come away with a thrilling 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Albany Devils Saturday at Times Union Center. The Amerks earned a split of the weekend home-and-home series with the Devils, who dating back to last season, have won seven straight meetings against the Amerks.
Tim Kennedy scored for the second straight game and added an assist for a two-point night while rookie forward Alexander Nylander snapped an 11-game scoring drought with a pair of assists in leading Rochester to its first win over Albany since Dec. 19 of last season. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and Vaclav Karabacek scored less than a minute apart from one another to jumpstart the comeback effort in the second period, with Karabacek’s goal marking his first as an Amerk. Cole Schneider, who will represent the Amerks over the next two days at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic, also found the back of the before Justin Bailey rounded out the scoring with his team-leading 18th goal of the season and 10th marker in the last 12 games. After allowing the game’s first three goals to the Devils, Linus Ullmark, the other half of Rochester’s AHL All-Star selections, stopped all of the next 23 shots he faced to salvage the win and improve to 17-15-2 on the season.
Yohann Auvitu recorded a goal and an assist in the loss for the Devils with Blake Coleman and Nick Lappin also scoring first-period goals for Albany. Rookie netminder Ken Appleby turned aside 19 shots in the defeat.
Albany stormed out to a commanding 3-0 lead in the first period with three tallies in a span of 7:03, beginning with Coleman’s 14th of the season in just his second game back after a stint in New Jersey. Camped out the right of the crease, Coleman poked in a loose puck following an initial offering from Auvitu to open the scoring.
A rebound found by Auvitu marked his second goal as a Devil, and second in as many nights after scoring last night in Rochester, before Lappin redirected a shot out of midair from Seth Helgeson to send the hosts into the break up by three. Albany also outshot Rochester by a 16-3 margin in the opening frame.
Despite being heavily outshot in the first, the Amerks were quick to return the favor on their hosts, scoring three times in less than four minutes to knot the contest at 3-3. Rochester mounted its comeback 7:26 into the middle frame when Nylander took a face-off which was directed to Paul Geiger at the near point. A bouncy puck found Muzito-Bagenda for his seventh goal of the season, opening the flood gates for the Amerks.
Just 58 seconds later, Karabacek rushed Helgeson in his own end, stealing the puck from the Albany defenseman and capitalizing on the turnover for his first goal as an Amerk. Rochester kept the pressure on, eventually tying the score 2:58 later when Schneider converted from in close following a clean face-off win from Kennedy. It was the team-leading 39th point of the season for Schneider, who jumped up to fifth in the AHL in scoring heading into the All-Star break.
Halfway through a scrappy third, Kennedy scored his fourth of the season and second in two nights to give the Amerks their first lead of the game. Tyson Strachan unleashed a shot from the high point that was turned away by Appleby, but the rebound kicked out to a waiting Kennedy, who fired it home from the right circle.
An explosive hit on Albany All-Star John Quenneville by Brady Austin sent him to the box, followed shortly after by Muzito-Bagenda and Joe Blandisi both for unsportsmanlike conduct. A four-on-four snipe by Amerks goal leader Bailey would seal the 5-3 win for Rochester.
The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross gets underway tomorrow at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, with the 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan at 7:30 p.m. In keeping with its traditional format, the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions will be squaring off against the All-Stars from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.
The 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge will then take place on the evening of Monday, Jan. 30. For the second straight year, the league’s all-stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific). The teams will then play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played using the 3-on-3 format. Rosters for each team will be composed of 11 skaters and two goaltenders each.
The Amerks resume their 2016-17 regular season on Friday, Feb. 3 when they continue their three-game road swing with a matchup against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the second of four meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Muzito-Bagenda (7), Karabacek (1), Schneider (16), Kennedy (4), Bailey (18)
ALB: Coleman (14), Auvitu (2), Lappin (2)
RCH: Ullmark – 23/26 (W)
ALB: Appleby – 19/24 (L)
RCH: PP (0/5) / PK (2/2)
ALB: PP (0/2) / PK (5/5)