(Laval, Quebec) … The Rochester Americans (18-6-3-3) tied Friday night’s game against the Laval Rocket (11-13-5-2) late in the third period to force overtime before Nick Baptiste scored the game-winning goal with 1:09 left in the extra frame.
With the 3-2 overtime victory, Rochester has notched points in 19 of its last 21 games and 34 points since Nov. 1 while improving 10-1-3-2 while on the road this season. The Amerks remain the only team with one loss in regulation in the AHL and just sit two points behind the first-place Toronto Marlies.
Amerks forward Kyle Criscuolo (2+0) notched his second multi-point performance in the last three outings, and the first multi-goal game of his career, while defenseman Zach Redmond registered his second two-point night in as many games with a pair of helpers. Baptiste scored his sixth goal of the slate along with an assist for his fourth multi-point game of the campaign and shows five points (2+3) in the last six games. Goaltender Linus Ullmark stopped 34 of 36 to improve to 11-1-3 in last 15 starts. The Swedish netminder has a league-best 14 wins on the season.
Michael McCarron recorded two assists while Chris Terry and Eric Gelinas scored for the Rocket despite the overtime loss. Netminder Charlie Lindgren, who entered the first game of the back-to-back set with a career record of 6-0-1 versus Rochester in seven starts, made 25 saves and dropped his second straight overtime decision against the Amerks.
Trailing 2-1 with 1:45 left in regulation and a face-off to the left of Lindgren, the Amerks pulled Ullmark for the extra attacker and used their timeout.
Following the timeout, Criscuolo won the draw to Seth Griffith and darted to the front of the Laval net. As Criscuolo made his way towards the net, Redmond blasted a one-time feed from Matt Tennyson from the left point. Criscuolo redirected the puck into the back of the net and tied the game at 2-2, ultimately forcing overtime.
After the two clubs traded chances in the extra session, Baptiste walked from the left half-boards towards Lindgren and rifled a shot to give the Amerks their third straight win against the Rocket in the eight-game head-to-head series. Baptiste’s sixth goal of the season was assisted by Kevin Porter and Redmond with just 69 seconds left in the overtime frame.
Criscuolo opened the scoring at the 8:57 mark of the first stanza before Gelinas knotted the score at 1-1 before the end of the first period. Following the Gelinas tally, Laval took a 2-1 lead with Terry’s team-leading 15th goal of the season at the 5:16 mark of the second stanza before the Amerks forced the overtime period.
The Amerks go for the weekend sweep of the Rocket as the teams clash for the second straight night with a rematch on Saturday, Dec. 23 at Place Bell in the final game before the Christmas break. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the fourth meeting of the season between the North Division rivals and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Criscuolo (7, 8), Baptiste (6, OT GWG)
LAV: Gelinas (4), Terry (15)
RCH: Ullmark – 34/36 (W)
LAV: Lindgren – 25/28 (OTL)
RCH: PP (0/4) | PK (4/4)
LAV: PP (0/4) | PK (4/4)