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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

(ROCHESTER, NY)… The Rochester Americans opened the final stretch of the regular season with a 3-1 loss to the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester came within a goal late in the second period, but the Amerks ultimately could not overcome a two-goal deficit.

Newcomer Johan Larsson, who was playing in his first game in Rochester after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, scored his first goal as an Amerk while defenseman Nick Bailen also registered his first professional point with an assist in his American Hockey League debut. David Leggio made 21 saves in the loss for the Amerks, who despite the setback, remain in a fifth-place tie with Houston in the Western Conference standings.

Recently acquired forward Tomas Vincour, who was obtained by Colorado in a trade with Dallas on Wednesday, led the Monsters with a two-point night (1+1), including the lone assist on Paul Carey’s game-winner. Luke Walker also scored for Lake Erie and Stefan Elliott contributed a pair of assists. Calvin Pickard earned the win between the pipes for the Monsters, stopping 37 of 38 shots in the victory.

After a scoreless first period, Lake Erie took a 1-0 lead just 1:38 into the middle frame as Walker picked up his own rebound and put a shot under the crossbar for his ninth of the season. Andrew Agozzino set up Walker with a one-timer from the high slot that was blocked by an Amerks defenseman, but the puck made its way back to Walker, who made good on the second opportunity with a wrister to the upper left corner.

The Monsters upped their lead at 7:25 of the second period after a costly turnover in the neutral zone led to a short-handed marker from Carey. The Amerks, on their third power-play of the game thanks to a hooking penalty to Lake Erie’s Joey Hishon, were staging an offensive rush out of their zone that included newcomers Larsson and Bailen. The play would get broken up at center ice, however, allowing Vincour to grab the loose puck and speed away with Carey on an odd-man rush in the opposite direction. Vincour gained the Amerks blueline, and somehow finding an open passing lane, fed Carey for the one-touch to the back of the net to make it a 2-0 game.

Larsson put the Amerks on the board at 14:14 with his first goal as an Amerk to trim Rochester’s deficit in half. Amerks defenseman Drew Schiestel made a nice play to move off the left half-wall and found a wide-open Larsson, who went top shelf for his 16th of the season. Bailen also earned his first professional point with an assist on the goal, making it a 2-1 contest heading into the second intermission.

Vincour put the Monsters back up by a pair with a power-play goal at 3:43 of the third period. Elliot’s bid from the high slot caromed off the skate of defenseman Alex Biega and drifted to the left circle, where Vincour deposited it into the empty net to give Lake Erie the 3-1 win.

Rochester begins its two-game weekend swing through the Northeast Division on Saturday, April 6 when its travels east down the I-90 to face-off with the Adirondack Phantoms at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth and final meeting between the intrastate rivals this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.

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