Courtesy of Amerks.com
UTICA, N.Y. — After jumping out to a two-goal lead, the Rochester Americans (29-14-3-2) saw the Utica Comets (26-19-3-2) respond with five straight unanswered goals, including three in a span of 58 seconds, to hand the Amerks a 5-2 loss and end Rochester’s season-long 10-game point streak Saturday night at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Despite the loss, however, the Amerks have collected 17 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games and maintain their first-place lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings. Rochester’s point streak was the club’s longest since a 10-game stretch between Nov. 21 and Dec. 13 of last season. The Amerks have notched 25 points in their last 18 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26.
For the second straight night, forward Victor Olofssonfound the scoresheet as he booked his 19th goal of the season, tying him with Zach Redmond for the most among all Amerks skaters, while Wayne Simpson notched his 15th marker of the campaign. Simpson is one goal shy of tying his career-best of 16 and one point away from reaching the 30-point plateau for the fourth straight season. Goaltender Adam Wilcox (8-6-3) made 30 saves but was dealt the loss in the crease.
Utica forward Reid Boucher registered his second-career AHL hat trick while recording a season-high four-point night (3+1) while Zack MacEwen also turned in a four-point effort (1+3) for the hometown Comets. Forward Jonathan Dahlen rounded out the scoring as former Amerk netminder Michael Leighton stopped 25 of 27 to improve to 4-2-0 on the season.
Facing a two-goal deficit after 20 minutes for the second straight night, the Comets responded with three goals in less than a minute to grab a 3-2 lead 4:21 into the middle stanza. Utica’s first tally of the night came from MacEwen at the 3:23 mark before he and Luke Schenn teamed up together for Boucher’s first goal just 31 seconds later. Following a timeout by the Amerks, Utica took its first lead of the night as Dahlen turned and swiped in a loose puck in-between the face-off dots for the go-ahead goal.
After the Comets took a one-goal advantage into the second intermission, Boucher added two more goals during the final period of regulation to record the 5-2 win and snap the Amerks point streak.
Near the midway point of the third period after a tripping penalty against the Amerks, Boucher slapped the puck past Wilcox following a face-off win inside the Rochester zone.
The goal snapped the Amerks span of killing off the last 35 consecutive penalties. Dating back to the turn of the New Year, Rochester’s shorthanded unit had successfully killed off 45 of 47 infractions in its last 15 games.
In an effort to mount a potential comeback, the Amerks pulled Wilcox for the extra attacker with just over two minutes to play in the matchup, but Boucher prevented any hope for Rochester as he completed the hat trick at the 18:16 mark.
Things started out well for the Amerks as they took a 2-0 lead after the opening period, but the Comets countered with five unanswered goals to hand Rochester just its fifth regulation loss on the road this season.
Less than a minute into the contest, Taylor Leierlobbed an outlet pass out of the Amerks defensive zone in the direction of Simpson. The forward tracked down the puck behind the Comets defensemen and raced in towards Leighton. With a defender draped on his back, Simpson flipped the puck over the arm of the veteran netminder and gave Rochester an early 1-0 lead just 60 seconds into the opening period.
The Amerks extended their lead to a pair of goals just 43 seconds into a two-man advantage as Olofsson, who has 19 (9+10) of his team-leading 43 points this season in the last 17 games, blasted a one-time cross-ice pass from Danny O’Regan. The goal at the 14:49 mark was the Sweden native’s 19th of the season and was also assisted by Matt Tennyson.
With the power-play goal, the Amerks, who own the AHL’s second-best road power-play percentage (27.1 percent), have tallied on 22 of the last 73 opportunities over the last 18 games. Additionally, Rochester has gone 9-for-28 in the seven get-togethers with the Comets while on the man-advantage this season.
The Amerks conclude their brief two-game road swing on Tuesday, Feb. 12 as they meet up with the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Simpson (15), Olofsson (19)
UTI: MacEwen (17), Boucher (21, 22, 23), Dahlen (13 – GWG)
ROC: Wilcox – 30/34 (L)
UTI: Leighton – 25/27 (W)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (3/4)
UTI: PP (1/4)| PK (2/3)