(Rochester, NY) … With a pair of first-period goals from forward Justin Bailey and 26 saves from goaltender Jonas Johansson, the Rochester Americans (15-6-2-0) defeated the Providence Bruins (11-9-4-0) by the score of 2-1 Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
The victory was the Amerks first over Providence since Jan. 18, 2009, as the club had entered the contest winless in the previous seven meetings, which included two overtime losses. Additionally, Rochester has won four of its last five games overall while earning 32 of a possible 42 points in the last 21 games.
Bailey, who has nine points (8-1) in six career games against the Bruins, turned in his third two-goal effort of the season to give the Amerks a four-point lead for first place in the AHL’s North Division standings going into tomorrow night’s showdown with the Syracuse Crunch. Johansson made his second straight start in the blue paint since being recalled from the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) and was nearly flawless in stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced. The second-year netminder improved to 2-0-0 on the season with the victory.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
The Bruins, who came into the matchup with a 7-1-2-0 record in their last 10 games, got on the board by the way of forward Zach Senyshyn’s eighth tally of the season. Goaltender Zane McIntyre turned aside 25 of 27 shots, but was handed the loss, his first regulation defeat since Nov. 11. He had gone 4-0-3 in his previous seven appearances.
After drawing the game’s first penalty 11:40 into the first period, Bailey opened the scoring 89 seconds into Rochester’s man-advantage. With the puck along the half-wall to the left of the Providence net, Rasmus Asplund fed Brendan Guhle with a one-timer atop the offensive zone. Guhle’s shot trickled towards the net and Bailey shoveled past the blocker of McIntyre.
The goal was Bailey’s sixth of the season and third against Providence. Asplund was awarded his fifth helper in the last four games while Guhle was credited with his second in the last two contests.
WATCH: JUSTIN BAILEY POST-GAME
“We have been preaching getting more shots to the net and getting back to the basics,” Bailey said when talking about the recent power-play struggles. “I was fortunate to get a lucky bounce and got the team started on the right foot tonight.”
Towards the end of the first period, Alexander Nylander forced a turnover just inside the Bruins blueline and Bailey intercepted a pass between the Providence defensemen. Sprinting towards McIntyre, Bailey flipped the puck over the right leg of the Bruins netminder to give Rochester a 2-0 advantage going into the break.
“Against a team, like Providence, who has been playing really good hockey lately, anytime you can get a good start it’s big,” said Bailey. “Whenever I can contribute offensively with a couple goals, it’s good for my confidence going into the weekend, especially playing Syracuse tomorrow night.”
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
Providence, which entered the weekend on a season-long eight-game point streak, could not have scripted its start to the second period any better as they drew a holding penalty just 33 seconds into the stanza.
Wasting little time, the Bruins made most of the opportunity as Senyshyn tipped a shot past the glove of Johansson to make it a one-goal game just 11 seconds later on the ensuing man-advantage.
While the teams exchanged scoring chances for the remainder of the frame, the Amerks carried a 2-1 lead into the final frame as they each had 20 shots apiece.
The game turned into a stalemate for a majority of the third period as neither club could generate much offensively as they combined for just five shots in the first 15 minutes of play.
WATCH: FREDDY JACKSON ADDRESSES THE MEDIA PRE-GAME
Clinging to a one-goal lead, the Amerks were called for a roughing penalty with 4:30 left in regulation. Despite being a skater down, Rochester successfully killed of the infraction.
Providence, though, looking to find the equalizer, pulled its goaltender for the final 1:03 and hit a pair of posts, but Johansson and the rest of the Amerks held off the attack to record the 2-1 victory.
“One of the shots during the final minute hit my arm, then a post, then rolled on my back and possibly another post,” described Johansson on the final sequence of regulation. “Tonight was one of those nights where maybe I should take a moment to thank my posts.”
“I thought it was a great game for us,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said. “Bailey had two big goals to get his line going, which I thought played really well. The penalty kill had a big kill near the end of the game and Johansson came up big, too, so it was a great game for everyone.”
Rochester makes its first trip back to Syracuse since the Opening Round of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs for a clash with the Crunch on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the War Memorial Arena. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be third of 12 scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester. The matchup can also be viewed on AHLTV.
ROC: Bailey (6, 7 – GWG)
PRO: Senyshyn (8)
ROC: Johansson – 26/27 (W)
PRO: McIntyre – 25/27 (L)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (2/3)
PRO: PP (1/3) | PK (2/3)
1. Justin Bailey (ROC)
2. Jonas Johansson (ROC)
3. Zach Senyshyn (PRO)