|DAN LAMBERT POST-GAME|
|DEREK GRANT POST-GAME|
|EVAN RODRIGUES POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – Despite scoring in the first period for the seventh straight game and putting up a season-high 48 shots, the Rochester Americans (31-40-0-3) fell 3-2 in a shootout against the Binghamton Senators (28-42-2-2) to kick-off the final week of the 2016-17 regular season Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss was just the third in the last 10 games for Rochester on home ice as the Amerks hold a 7-2-0-1 record over that span dating back to March 4.
Rookie Alex Kile tied the contest late in the first period with his second pro goal while former Senator Derek Grant added his 10th of the campaign and fourth against his former club. After winning three of his first four starts in the crease for the Amerks, Jonas Johansson took his third straight defeat after making 16 saves to fall to 3-3-1 on the season.
After signing a Professional Tryout a week ago, rookie Jordan Murray notched his first pro goal in the final period and added an assist for Binghamton while Max McCormick scored his team-leading 21st marker of the season. Third-year netminder Chris Driedger faced a career-high 48 shots while stopping 46 to improve his record to 12-18-2.
As the game was dwindling down, Buffalo Sabres Rookie of the Year Evan Rodrigues drew his second penalty of the night to give Rochester its third power-play with 3:32 left to play. With the puck behind the net, Cole Schneider centered a pass to Patrick Mullen atop the right point. The defensemen fired a shot that was initially blocked before it bounced to Grant near the right face-off circle. The veteran forward one-timed the puck into the top of the net to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime.
“It was good to tie the game,” Grant said. “Our power-play was not good early in the game but we just stuck with it and it was good to tie the game late and give ourselves a chance to win it.”
The first half of the extra session was uneventful until the Amerks took a tripping penalty with 2:46 left to play. Despite facing a four-on-three disadvantage, the Amerks were able to generate several scoring chances, which included two shots off the iron and a breakaway opportunity for Rodrigues. Driedger, however, thwarted all the chances and the shootout was required to determine a winner.
The home squad elected to shoot first but Alexander Nylander, Nick Baptiste and Justin Bailey were all stopped while Binghamton’s Nick Paul scored the lone tally in the skills competition to earn the extra point.
“Overtime got kind of wild,” said Rodrigues. “On my breakaway, I was able to get a good shot but Driedger was able to get the knob of his stick on the puck and then it rang off the post. Then they had a three-on-one until Brady Austin made a great play and then we hit the post on another shot. Tonight, we just ran into a hot goalie who stole the game for them.”
In the opening period, the Amerks were inches away from taking a 1-0 lead when Nylander rifled a shot from in-between the dots to beat Driedger, but the blast rang off the post with 5:14 left to play. Later in the shift, McCornmick broke the scoreless game with his marker to give the B-Sens a 1-0 lead at the 15:34.
As it appeared the Amerks were going to be trailing going into the intermission break, Kile knotted the score at 1-1. Justin Vaive and Jean Dupuy each recorded an assist on the tally with just 2.5 seconds showing on the first period clock.
The two North Division foes had a scoreless second period before Murray scored midway through the final period to make it a 2-1 lead for the B-Sens despite being outshot a 38-12 at the time. Murray exchanged a give-and-go with former Amerk Jason Akeson at the point before carrying the puck low and finding a seam over the right shoulder of Johansson for his the go-ahead tally.
Later in the frame, Grant’s fourth power-play goal of the season tied the game and forced the overtime period.
“We had opportunities throughout the game to score but their goaltender made some big saves,” said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert. “There were times where we did not go to the net as hard as we’d liked and there were roughly 20 shots we did not hit the net. When you have that many chances, we have to bury one of those chances.”
The Amerks close out the 2016-17 regular season with a home-and-home series against the Albany Devils beginning Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena on Fan Appreciation Night presented by Tops Friendly Markets. The first 7,500 fans in attendance will receive a 2016-17 Amerks Team Photo courtesy of Tops Friendly Markets, with select Season Ticket Members receiving the Amerks blue jerseys “off the backs” of the players following the game. Prior to the game, the 2016-17 Team Awards will be presented, including the Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, Rob Zabelny Unsung Hero and the Fairand O’Neil Sportsmanship Award. The winner of the “7th Man-Fan of the Year” will also be recognized while the winners of the Amerks Booster Club Awards, such as Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Player, will be announced.
Following Friday’s 7:05 p.m. contest, the Amerks make their final trip to the Times Union Center Saturday evening for a rematch with the Devils at 5:00 p.m. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Kile (2), Grant (10)
BNG: McCormick (21), Murray (1)
RCH: Johansson – 16/18 (SOL)
BNG: Driedger – 46/48 (W)
RCH: PP (1/3) / PK (3/3)
BNG: PP (0/3) / PK (2/3)