(Rochester, NY)… Matt Ellis scored for the fourth straight game and Mark Mancari extended his point streak to eight games, but the Rochester Americans could not overcome a pair of two-goal deficits as the Amerks dropped a 3-2 decision to the Albany Devils Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss snaps Rochester’s six-game point streak and hands the Amerks their first regulation defeat of the month after opening up March with a 5-0-1-0 record through the first six games.
Amerks goaltender David Leggio, who entered the game on a five-game personal win streak, made 23 saves in the losing effort in his 50th start of the season.
The Devils scored once in each period with goals from Mike Sislo, Mike Hoeffel and Phil DeSimone as Albany won for the third straight game and moved into the top eight of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. Keith Kinkaid earned the win between the pipes with 31 saves for the Devils, who have now collected at least one point in eight of their last nine games.
Albany took a 1-0 lead just 5:43 into the first period as Sislo scored short-handed off a two-on-one fast break to put the Devils in front. With the Amerks playing a man-up thanks to a hooking penalty to Albany captain Jay Leach, Sislo was able to slip by his defender at the left half-wall and speed out of the Rochester zone before beating Leggio with a low wrist shot to the glove-side.
The Devils increased their lead to 2-0 after Hoeffel capitalized on a defensive zone turnover and sent it to the back of net for his fourth of the season at 12:54 of the second period. Luke Adam’s attempted clearing pass was knocked down by Darcy Zajac in the high slot and scooped up by a passing Hoeffel, who spun around and snapped a shot inside the near post to put Albany up by a pair.
Ellis brought the Amerks within a goal at 18:49 of the middle frame, netting his fourth in as many games on the power-play to keep his goal-scoring streak intact. After Mark Pysyk made an excellent play at the blueline to keep the puck in the zone, he set up Mancari with a one-timer from the right circle that Ellis deflected past Kinkaid to make it a 2-1 game. With the assist, Mancari extended his current point streak to a season-long eight games, the longest active point streak in the AHL.
DeSimone gave Albany a 3-1 advantage after taking a feed from Joe Whitney and sending it to the upper right corner, but the Amerks responded just 34 seconds later as Mancari converted a pass from Phil Varone with a blast to the lower left corner of the net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. The goal gives Mancari 12 points (4+8) over his eight-game point streak.
The Amerks nearly tied the game in the final of minute of regulation with Leggio on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, but Kinkaid made several clutch saves, including a point-blank glove save on Ellis, to secure the 3-2 win for Albany.
Rochester embark on its season-long five-game road swing on Saturday, March 16 as they head across the border for a North Division showdown with the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. Game time is slated for a 5:00 p.m. start with all the action being carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.