As they embark on a two-game road trip in Grand Rapids this weekend, the Rochester Americans will look to rebound from a turbulent week that saw their top goal scorer recalled to Buffalo and three different goaltenders start in net in a span of four games.
The Amerks came out of that four-game set with just one win to show for it, a 2-1 victory over Binghamton on Saturday. Rochester came out on the losing end of back-to-back 4-0 contests against Albany and Binghamton on Wednesday and Friday and then dropped a 2-1 contest against Syracuse on Monday.
Robin Lehner made the last of his three conditioning starts in net in Albany, turning in a 35-save performance as the Amerks' scoring drought began. Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood needed to make just 19 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.
By the time Friday came, Lehner was back in Buffalo and Linus Ullmark had been reassigned to Rochester with Ullmark set to start against the Senators at The Blue Cross Arena. This time, the Amerks outshot their opponent 33-25, but the final score remained the same. Ullmark allowed four goals and Rochester failed to find the back of the net.
The Amerks went 0-for-7 on the power play, including a stretch of five consecutive minutes with the man advantage in the first period. That penalty kill in particular proved to provide a momentum boost for the Senators, who received goals from Nick Paul and David Dziurzynski in an eight-second span to go up 2-0 a few minutes later.
Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth was disappointed with the way the team supported Ullmark in his return to Rochester.
"He definitely did a fine job coming in as he did but we didn’t do a great job in front of him," Cunneyworth told Amerks.com. "Loose pucks, out battling some guys, they had longer sticks than we did. We obviously got out-battled in the crease area, but I think he was pretty solid."
Philip Varone was recalled to Buffalo after the game on Friday, meaning the Amerks would be without their leading goal scorer in Binghamton on Saturday. Even so, they were able to put an end to their scoring drought in a winning effort.
This time, they won on the strength of their power play. After coming out of the period trailing 1-0, Rochester received the a power-play goal from Daniel Catenacci to tie the game 5:51 into the second period and another from Jerome Leduc that proved to be the game-winner less than two minutes later.
Evan Rodrigues, Bobby Sanguinetti, Colby Robak and Jason Akeson all tallied assists in the win and Nathan Lieuwen made 22 saves for the Amerks, who outshot the Senators 30-23.
With Lieuwen earning a second straight start in net, the Amerks were able to build on the win against Syracuse on Monday. Adam Erne scored the game's first goal for the Crunch 1:23 into the second period and David Broll added another 2:45 into the third.
Justin Bailey responded quickly for Rochester, clanking in a shot off the crossbar to bring the Amerks back within a goal 1:24 after Broll's tally, but it stood as Rochester's only offense of the night. Lieuwen made 28 saves in the loss.
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1. Jason Akeson 24 points (7+17)
2. Cal O'Reilly 23 points (4+19)
3. Philip Varone 19 points (10+9)
4. Nicholas Baptiste 15 points (7+8)
5. Jerome Leduc 14 points (7+7)
Evan Rodrigues 14 points (4+10)
1. Nathan Lieuwen 10-7-0, 2.81 goals-against average, .913 save percentage
2. Linus Ullmark 1-3-0, 3.05 GAA, .916 save percentage
3. Andrey Makarov 6-7-1, 3.09 GAA, .907 save percentage
The Amerks will look to rebound in back-to-back road games against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Saturday night. Both games are slated to begin at 7 p.m. and can be heard live on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester. Stay tuned to Amerks.com throughout the season for full coverage.