(Bridgeport, CT) … After jumping out to a 4-0 lead early in the second period of Thursday night’s season finale with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (31-23-5-3), the Rochester Americans (30-17-10-6) were unable to hold the lead and allowed six straight unanswered goals to come out on the wrong side of a 6-4 score at Webster Bank Arena.
The regulation loss was just Rochester’s sixth of the season away from The Blue Cross Arena as they hold a 16-6-8-3 record in those 33 road contests.
The Amerks, who have earned at least one point in 20 of their last 28 games dating back to Jan. 1, including six of the last eight, maintain a 22-point lead on the fifth-place Laval Rocket in the North Division standings. The top four teams in the division are guaranteed a playoff spot and Rochester needs just five points to secure a postseason berth.
Amerks forwards Hudson Fasching and Sean Malone each recorded a two-point (1+1) outing while Alexander Nylander also turned in a two-point performance as he added two helpers. Malone shows eight points (4+4) over his last 10 games while Nylander has tallied 11 points (3+8) over his last 13 contests, including a pair of two-assist games. Stuart Percy scored his career-best sixth goal of the campaign to reach the 30-point mark for the first time in his pro career while Danny O’Regan netted his 10th overall and third with Rochester, which has taken seven of a possible 12 points through its first six games of March. Goaltender Adam Wilcox suffered his second straight loss as he finished the contest with 21 saves.
Travis St. Denis recorded a career-best five-point effort that included his first-ever hat trick to go along with a pair of assists to lead the Sound Tigers to their second straight four-goal comeback win. Ryan Hitchcock registered his first-career points with a trio of assists in just his second AHL tilt while Ryan Bourque (2+0) and Steve Bernier completed the scoring. Eamon McAdam earned the win in the crease as he made 19 saves after replacing Kristers Gudlevskis 1:13 into the second period.
After the Amerks were unable to capitalize on their seventh power-play of the night, the Sound Tigers erased Rochester’s lead when St. Denis fired a shot over the left shoulder of Wilcox to compete the natural hat trick and tie the game at 4-4 with 9:08 left in regulation.
The three-goal outing from St. Denis was the first allowed by the Amerks since Jordan Murray of the Belleville Senators scored three times back on Nov. 11.
Less than four minutes after single-handedly tying the matchup, St. Denis set-up Hitchcock between the points of the Amerks zone. Hitchcock fired the one-time feed towards Wilcox but Bernier redirected the shot and gave Bridgeport its first lead of the contest at the 15:43 mark of the stanza.
Despite pulling Wilcox for the extra attacker, Rochester could not solve McAdam before Bourque sealed the 6-4 win as he tacked on his 10th of the season with one minute left in the game.
Rochester had opened the scoring just 3:55 into the first period as Malone deposited a loose puck over Gudlevskis right pad from Fasching and Zach Redmond for his ninth of the slate. The assist moves Redmond into a tie for the team-lead in scoring and puts him within one point of reaching the 40-point mark for the first time in his career.
Percy pushed the Amerks lead to 2-0 just over the halfway point of frame when he rifled in his sixth of the season before Fasching added his eighth of the campaign with 56 seconds to play in the opening period.
Fasching’s goal ended a career-long 26-game goal-scoring drought and gave him his sixth multi-point (1+1) performance of the season while Malone and Nylander each recorded their first and fourth, respectively.
The Amerks took a 3-0 lead into the intermission break after not allowing the Sound Tigers to record their first shot of the night until the 10:46 mark of the first period.
Just 1:13 into the middle period, O’Regan ended Gudlevskis’ night as he picked the upper-left corner of the net to give Rochester a four-goal lead and force the goaltender change. Sahir Gill and Andrew MacWilliam were awarded the helpers on the tally.
Facing a 4-0 deficit for the second consecutive game, the Sound Tigers cut the Amerks lead in half before the end of the sandwich stanza as Bourque and St. Denis each scored their first goals of the night.
Bridgeport continued to chip away at Rochester’s lead during the final period as St. Denis scored two more times to compete the hat trick and tie the game at 4-4 midway through the stanza.
The Sound Tigers gained their first lead of the night with 4:17 left in regulation before adding an empty-netter to record their first regulation win in the four-game season series.
The Amerks continue their push for a playoff spot on Friday, Mar. 16 at 7:05 p.m. when they close out their season series against the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Rochester will conclude the four-day trip with a 5:00 p.m. stop in Hartford on Sunday evening to bring the weekend to a close. Both games can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Malone (9), Percy (6), Fasching (8), O’Regan (10)
BRI: Bourque (9, 10), St. Denis (18, 19, 20), Bernier (15)
RCH: Wilcox– 21/26 (L)
BRI: Gudlevskis – 13/17 (ND) | McAdam– 19/19 (W)
RCH: PP (1/7) | PK (4/6)
BRI: PP (2/6) | PK (6/7)