(Providence, RI) … The Rochester Americans (31-18-10-6) came up short against the Providence Bruins (37-20-3-2) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Friday night as the Bruins recorded their seventh straight victory over the Amerks with a 5-3 win.
Despite the regulation loss, the Amerks, who have earned at least one point in 20 of their last 29 games dating back to Jan. 1, maintain a 20-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.
Forwards Adam Krause, Alexander Nylander and Danny O’Regan all scored for the Amerks, who suffered back-to-back regulation road losses for just the second time all season. Nylander recorded his 12th point (4+8) over his last 14 contests while O’Regan has found the back of the net four times in his first five games with the Amerks since being acquired at the NHL’s Trade Dealine from the San Jose Sharks organization. Goaltender Jonas Johansson made his first appearance of the campaign when he replaced Adam Wilcox, who left the game 4:45 into the third period, but was tagged with the loss as he stopped nine of 10 shots he faced.
Austin Czarnik recorded his second-career hat trick to lead the Bruins to their sixth win in the last eight games while Kenny Agostino, Ryan Fitzgerald and Tommy Cross all chipped in with a pair of helpers. Adam Payerl and Connor Clifton rounded out the scoring for Providence, which swept the season series for the second straight season, while Zane McIntyre improved to 21-13-4 on the season as he made 28 saves in the blue paint.
Trailing 3-2 entering the final period, O’Regan pounced on a rebound to the left of McIntyre just 3:29 into the stanza and knotted the score at 3-3. However, the Bruins responded less than two minutes later and grabbed the lead back with Czarnik’s 19th marker of the year and second of the night.
Prior to the goal, Wilcox left the contest, forcing Johansson to come off the bench at the 15:15 mark of the third period. Czarnik’s shot was the first the netminder saw in-between the pipes this season but the rookie goaltender could not snag the shot over his left shoulder.
Rochester tried to even the score once more as they pulled Johansson with 1:10 left in regulation, but Czarnik scooped up a loose puck and flipped it into the vacant net to seal the 5-3 win and compete the hat trick.
For the second time in as many nights, Rochester opened the scoring as Krause redirected a Zach Redmond shot just 1:13 into the contest but Providence tied the game later in the period.
With Redmond’s primary helper on Krause’s third goal of the season, he reaches the 40-point plateau for the first time in his career as he shows 13 goals to go with his team-leading 27 assists on the year. The veteran blueliner also surpassed rookie C.J. Smith to take over the team lead in scoring on the season.
After the teams emerged from the first period intermission break, Nylander gave the Amerks a 2-1 lead 5:42 into the stanza with his sixth of the season. Colin Blackwell and Hudson Fasching, who had two points (1+1) last night, were awarded the helpers on the goal.
Providence, however, responded with a pair of tallies 1:23 apart to take a 3-2 lead into the third period while outshooting the Amerks 35-14 after 40 minutes of play.
Despite O’Regan knotting the game at 3-3 early into the final frame, Czarnik added his 19 and 20th markers of the season to seal the 5-3 win for the Bruins.
The Amerks conclude their three-game, four-day trek through the Atlantic Division on Sunday, Mar. 18 at 5:00 p.m. when they close out their season series against the Hartford Wolf Pack at XL Center. All of the action can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Krause (3), Nylander (6), O’Regan (11)
PRO: Payerl (6), Clifton (3), Czarnik (18, 19, 20)
RCH: Wilcox– 35/38 (ND) | Johansson– 9/10 (L)
PRO: McIntyre– 28/31 (W)
RCH: PP (0/3) | PK (3/5)
PRO: PP (2/5) | PK (3/3)