Courtesy of Amerks.com
HARTFORD, CT – After falling into a 3-0 hole, the Rochester Americans (19-14-2-1) were unable to generate any offensive firepower in a 4-1 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack (14-14-3-6) Saturday night at XL Center.
Despite the loss, Rochester has earned wins in six of the last 10 contests against Hartford dating back to the 2017-18 campaign while also recording at least one point in 11 of the previous 14 exchanges, going 8-3-1-2 over that span. Tonight was the Amerks’ first regulation in Hartford since Mar. 18, 2018.
Rookie forward Isak Rosen scored his fourth goal of the season late in the third period from Michael Mersch and Lawrence Pilut. The power-play goal was Rosen’s first tally since Nov. 19. Mersch earned his 13th point (6+7) over his last 11 games, while Pilut was credited with his fifth assist over his last six outings.
Goaltender Michael Houser (3-5-0) made his 10th appearance of the campaign and first since Dec. 9. He made 29 saves but suffered his fourth straight defeat.
Turner Elson and Lauri Pajuniemi scored their eighth and ninth goals of the season, respectively, while on the power-play for Hartford. Cristiano DiGiacinto added his third of the slate before Zach Giuttari capped of the contest with his first late in the contest.
Netminder Dyland Garand (6-7-3) carried a shutout into the final minutes of the third period but earned the win as he stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Over his last six outings, Garand, the New York Rangers’ fourth-round selection (103rd overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft, has a 4-1-0 mark.
After registering the game’s first seven shots of a fast-moving first period, Hartford then drew the contest’s initial power-play with 8:21 left in the opening frame.
Just 22 seconds into the infraction, Blake Hillman handed a pass to his fellow defenseman at the right point. As Matthew Robinson was stationed inside the blueline, he snapped a shot towards Houser. After initially being denied on the rebound, Elson flipped the puck over the left leg of the Amerks’ netminder to make it a 1-0 score.
Prior to the completion of the first frame, Rochester was called for icing, resulting in a face-off to the left of Houser with just over two minutes left.
Matt Rempe won the draw back to the right point for Ty Emberson and he then left it for DiGiacinto. The Hamilton, Ontario, native avoided a poke check by a Rochester skater before wiring a shot past the blocker of Houser to give Hartford a 2-0 lead going into the intermission break.
Neither team generated much offensively in the second period and the score remained a two-goal game going into the final 20 minutes of play.
Much like the middle frame, the clubs couldn’t find anything offensively until later in the frame when Hartford drew another power-play with 5:19 to play.
During the man-advantage, the Wolf Pack kept the Amerks hemmed inside their own zone as they cycled the puck outside the perimeter. Tanner Fritz gave a pass to Zac Jones atop the point, and Jones immediately fed a one-time feed to Pajuniemi inside the near circle at the 16:09 mark. Pajuniemi’s shot found a way inside the post and Houser, giving Hartford its largest lead of the night.
Rochester eventually got on the board with 1:08 remaining in regulation as Rosen spoiled Garand’s bid for his third shutout of the season but Hartford closed out the game on Giuttari’s empty-net tally, sealing the 4-1 win.
The Amerks close out the first month of 2023 with three straight home games beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 25 as they welcome the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.