(Utica, NY) … After falling behind the Utica Comets (29-19-4-2) 3-0 less than eight minutes into the second period, the first-place Rochester Americans (33-16-3-2) erased the deficit with three consecutive second-period goals before Zach Redmond completed the dramatic comeback victory just 38 seconds into overtime to give the Amerks a 4-3 win Friday at the Adirondack Bank Center. The Amerks have now won four straight heading into Saturday’s weekend finale with the Belleville Senators.
With tonight’s overtime win, the Amerks have collected 25 out of a possible 34 points in their last 17 games and have earned at least one point in 13 of the last 16 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, going 8-3-2-3 over that span. Rochester has also notched 33 points in its last 24 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26 and maintain a three-point lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings heading into final weekend of February.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
For the third straight contest and fifth time in his last six games, Redmond turned in a multi-point effort as he tallied three points (1+2), which included his league-leading ninth game-winning goal and team-leading 21st marker of the season to lead the Amerks. Wayne Simpson, who scored for the third straight game, and Victor Olofsson each recorded a goal and later set-up Redmond in overtime, while Rasmus Asplund had a two-assist night. Remi Elie extended his point streak to four games as he booked his fourth goal in the last six games while goaltender Scott Wedgewood earned his 12th win in the last 15 games and improved to 20-7-2 on the season as he stopped 16 shots on the night to pick up his 20th win of season.
Tanner Kero, Reid Gardiner and Guillaume Brisebois all scored for scored for Utica, which pushed its point streak to eight games but saw its three-game win-streak end, while netminder Ivan Kulbakov made 32 saves but suffered the overtime loss.
With the game tied at 3-3 and the third-period clocking dwindling down, the Amerks’ shorthanded unit drew a high-sticking infraction with 1:06 left in regulation. Neither of the North Division foes scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 situation and with Rochester’s penalty expiring prior to the final horn sounding, the Amerks began the overtime on the man-advantage for 46 seconds.
Controlling the puck in the Comets zone after the start of the extra frame, Simpson handed Redmond a perfect one-time feed from the left face-off dot. After the duo failed on the initial attempt, Redmond blasted a shot just inside the left post to give the Amerks a 4-3 win 38 seconds into frame.
The power-play goal was Rochester’s third of the game with the man-advantage, and dating back to Dec. 26, the Amerks, who have the AHL’s best road power-play percentage (27.8%), have gone 27-for-92 during that span.
Following a scoreless opening period, the two clubs erupted for six goals in the second stanza as each side scored three times in less than eight minutes of play. Utica tallied the game’s first two markers 59 seconds apart before adding a third 7:09 into the frame before the Amerks countered with three straight goals of their own in a span of 5:56.
Nearly halfway into the Amerks third power-play of the contest, Asplund raced to keep the puck from exiting the Comets zone and sent a blind pass onto the stick of Olofsson. After gathering the pass, the Swedish forward rifled his 20th goal of the season behind Kulbakov to put Rochester on the board. It’s the second straight year Olofsson reached the 20-goal mark after leading the Swedish Hockey League with 27 goals last season.
Five minutes later, Andrew MacWilliam collected a loose puck inside the Amerks end of the ice after a defensive zone face-off and sprung Simpson on a breakaway. Collecting the puck near center ice, Simpson raced in towards the netminder and backhanded a shot over the right pad to make it a one-goal affair with 2:55 to go in the stanza.
The Amerks wiped out their three-goal deficit and went into the intermission tied at 3-3 as Elie hammered home a cross-ice pass from Asplund and Redmond while on the man-advantage at the 18:20 mark.
Following a scoreless third period, the game went beyond regulation and overtime was needed to determine a winner. Redmond, who just two nights ago continued his record-setting campaign by becoming the first Amerks defenseman in the 63-year history of the franchise to reach the 20-goal mark, sealed the 4-3 come-from-behind win just 38 seconds into the frame with his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
The Amerks host the red-hot Belleville Senators on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:05 p.m. before bringing the month of February to a close with a return trip back to Utica on Wednesday, Feb. 27 to exchange pleasantries with the Comets for the second time in six days. Both North Division matchups will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Olofsson (20), Simpson (19), Elie (4), Redmond (21 – OT GWG)
UTI: Kero (21), Gardiner (1), Brisebois (3)
ROC: Wedgewood – 16/19 (W)
UTI: Kulbakov – 32/36 (OTL)
ROC: PP (3/5) | PK (3/3)
UTI: PP (0/3) | PK (2/5)
1. Zach Redmond (ROC)
2. Reid Gardiner (UTI)
3. Remi Elie (ROC)