By TODD ETSHMAN
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Amerks got their holiday season started in style as they lit the lamp ten times on Friday night and cruised to a 10-3 victory over the Binghamton Devils. It was the most goals scored by the Amerks since they hit double digits on Dec 16, 2006, also against Binghamton, which was affiliated with Ottawa at the time.
The shellacking came just six days after the Devils shut out the Amerks in Binghamton, 5-0.
“There’s a lot of parody in the league. That’s a great example of it,” said veteran forward Steve Moses, who bagged two goals in the game plus an assist.
Head coach Chris Taylor wasn’t happy with some of his players in Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime loss in Syracuse but two of those players led the way on Friday at home.
The Amerks came out of the gate swarming in the Devils zone and lit the lamp just 52 seconds after the opening faceoff. Sharp shooting right winger Alexander Nylander showed why he’s a top young Sabres prospect with his first goal of the season in his fourth game back from injury.
“He (Nylander) catches passes other guys can’t and he passes like an NHL player,” Taylor said adding that Nylander also has a great shot and the gift of speed.
First star of the game Evan Rodrigues followed that one up three and a half minutes later with another shot from the right side past Devils’ goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.
After that, the rout was on as less than a minute later, rookie center Sean Malone took a nice feed from Eric Cornell, deked around Blackwood in front of the cage and gave his team a 3-0 lead just 5:18 into the game.
Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky pulled Blackwood after Malone’s goal although none of the goals looked to be soft. So dominant were the Amerks on the day after Thanksgiving that ironically, Blackwood would be put back in the third period after his replacement, Ken Appleby, gave up six goals in just over 39 minutes of relief.
Appleby didn’t have much luck stopping the puck but he did get a 10 minute misconduct in the third period for shooting the puck at the Amerks – intentionally or not, it was hard to tell-after they went up 9-3.
The Amerks scored in just about every way they could, a combination of skill and luck. On the Amerks 10th goal, leading scorer C.J. Smith looked to be passing the puck to captain Kevin Porter at 6:21 of the third but it never got there since it landed in the net behind Blackwood, who finished the night in net for the Devils.
Cutting the margin to three at the end of the first period on a goal by Bracken Kearns was as close as the Devils would get. There are few 36 year olds in the development minded AHL but Kearns earns his keep year after year showing teammates a little over half his age how to do it.
The Devils also got to within three in the second period. After defenseman Brendan Guhle got his fourth of the year taking a drop pass from Colin Blackwell and ripping it past Appleby to make it 6-2, the Amerks gave up another late goal to go into the locker room, 6-3.
The Devils appeared to right the ship in the second period, outshooting the Amerks, 14 to 5 and keeping play in the Amerks zone for most of the period.
But, the wheels came off the Devils bus in the third as four out of the seven Amerks shots in the period found the back of the net.
Rodrigues got his second on a wobbly shot that found the net just over three minutes in and earned his coach’s praise for the effort.
“He’s a huge asset for our team He plays on the power play, the penalty kill, plays wing and center. He pushes other guys to be better,” Taylor said in his post game comments.
The 24-year old Rodrigues said he was probably eight or nine the last time he was on a team that scored double digits.
Taylor was quick to deflect the same question to him regarding the last time he was on a team that did it.
“Don’t know,” he said, explaining that’s not how he looks at the game, preferring consistency, which he didn’t see in the second period.
The fourth game against Binghamton in eleven days wraps up tomorrow in Binghamton.
“They’re going to be coming out angry with a lot to prove,” said Moses.
“It definitely builds a rivalry,” said Hudson Fasching, another name on the score sheet with two goals on the night. Fasching said a key to the Amerks success against the Devils is the ability to create two on ones off an aggressive Devils defense.
But, as Fasching noted, the puck bounces one way one night and another way another night. Tonight, it bounced the Amerks way and sent the appreciative home crowd home happy for Thanksgiving leftovers.