KULICH SCORES AGAIN IN 2-1 LOSS TO PENGUINS
Second-year forward leads AHL with 16 goals through 22 games thisDec 16, 2023
A late third-period goal proved to be the difference in a 2-1 score Saturday night as the Rochester Americans (12-8-2-1) came up short against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (14-9-3-0) at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The defeat was Rochester’s first regulation loss against the Penguins since Jan. 13, 2017, as they entered the contest with an 8-0-0-1 mark over that time frame. The Amerks remain in third place in the North Division standings, sitting three points behind Syracuse and six away from Cleveland, who comes to Rochester next week as they lead the Division with 33 points.
For the second straight night, Jiri Kulich scored a power-play goal, his sixth of the season and league-leading 16th overall this season. Forwards Linus Weissbach and Michael Mersch both added an assist on the first-period marker. Weissbach has an assist in back-to-back games and five points (1+4) over his last seven games while Mersch also has five points (1+4) in his last five contests.
Former Penguins goaltender Dustin Tokarski (4-4-1) made 29 saves in his first appearance since last Friday’s contest against Charlotte and ninth overall on the season.
Former Amerk forward Alex Nylander (1+1) notched his fourth multi-point performance of the campaign while Sam Poulin rounded out the scoring as he tallied his second goal of the season. Goaltender Magnus Hellberg (4-4-0) evened his record by earning his fourth win, stopping 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
In the third period of a 1-1 score, Peter Abbandonato provided a pass to Nylander in the center of the ice. The Swedish forward tried to dump the puck down the right wing, and after his initial attempt was batted down, he regained repossession just inside the offensive zone. He continued his path, and prior to reaching the top of the circle, he quickly snapped a shot over the glovehand of Tokarski to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a one-goal lead with just three minutes left in regulation.
In an attempt to force the game beyond regulation for the third time in as many games, Rochester pulled its netminder for the extra attacker. Hellberg and the Penguins never allowed the Amerks to set-up in the offensive zone as the clock would then expire.
The Penguins, who successfully killed off their first penalty of the night, broke the scoreless game as he forced a turnover to the right corner of Tokarski. Nylander stepped in front of a potential breakout pass before he fed Poulin in the slot at the 6:28 mark. The forward settled the pass seconds before ripping a shot between the pads of his former teammates for his second of the campaign.
Midway through the stanza, Rochester again drew another Wilkes-Barre/Scranton infraction but this time they capitalized on the man-advantage.
Isak Rosen and Brandon Biro helped carry the puck deep inside the Penguins zone before Mersch grabbed possession. He centered a pass through several skaters to Weissbach inside blueline. The Swedish forward quickly provided a one-time fed for Kulich to snipe under the crossbar inside the right face-off circle with 8:26 left in the period.
The game remained knotted at one despite each goaltender making numerous amount of saves before Nylander’s third-period tally sealed the 2-1 win for the Penguins.
The Amerks return home for a pair of contests before Christmas beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 20 as they welcome the Cleveland Monsters to The Blue Cross Arena for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. All the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Stars and Stripes:
Jiri Kulich scored his league-leading 16th goal of the season … With 16 goals through 22 games, he remains on pace to become the first AHL player to reach the 20-goal mark in the fewest number of games to begin the season since Frank Vatrano scored 20 goals in just 18 games to begin the 2015-16 campaign ... Including tonight, the Amerks have scored 12 power-play goals in their last 10 games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season, going 12-for-44 (27.3%) with the man-advantage over that span … Rochester completed its three-game trek through Atlantic Division opponents by successfully killing all 10 penalty chances … Tonight’s contest served as Seth Appert’s 200th game as head coach of the Amerks.
ROC: J. Kulich (16)
WBS: S. Poulin (2), A. Nylander (9)
ROC: D. Tokarski – 29/31 (L)
WBS: M. Hellberg – 23/24 (W)
ROC: PP (1/4) | PK (5/5)
WBS: PP (0/5) | PK (3/4)
1. WBS - A. Nylander
2. WBS - S. Poulin
3. WBS - M. Hellberg