Friday: Utica 2 - Rochester 5
Less than a week after posting his first AHL shutout on Sunday, Rochester Americans (28-37-0-2) goaltender Linus Ullmark turned in yet another solid performance on Friday, making 51 saves as the Amerks pushed their win streak to a season-long four straight games with a 5-2 win over the Utica Comets (31-28-7-2) at The Blue Cross Arena.
The win was also Rochester's fourth straight over the Comets, who will host Saturday's rematch between the two teams as the home-and-home series shifts to the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Ullmark's 51 saves ties an AHL season-high by a goalie this season and marks his most in a game since stopping 51 of 53 against the Syracuse Crunch on Feb. 20 of last season. The Swedish netminder improved to 25-26-2 with his third straight win in as many starts.
Nicholas Baptiste scored his team-leading 23rd and 24th goals of the campaign to give him four in his last three games and rookie defensemen Casey Nelson recorded his fifth goal of the season to go along with an assist for his second multi-point effort of the year.
Derek Grant (6+2) and Cole Schneider (1+5) each extended their point streaks to four games after each collected an assist. Brady Austin capped off the scoring on the night after Justin Bailey notched his 20th goal of the season earlier in the third period.
Jordan Subban and Pascal Pelletier scored their 15th and 10th markers of the season, respectively, for Utica. Thatcher Demko took just his third loss in the last 13 appearances, going 10-3-0 since Feb. 24, after allowing four goals in 47:19 before being replaced by Michael Garteig for the remainder of the contest.
"Linus was outstanding tonight as he made 50-plus saves," Baptiste said. "He played great but we know we have to play better as we sort of let them back into the game in the third. We had a good 40 minutes and tomorrow we have to have a full 60-minute game."
Saturday: Rochester 3 - Utica 5
Trailing by three with three minutes left to play in the third period, the Rochester Americans (28-38-2-0) inched their way back to make it a one-goal game, but were unable to complete the comeback, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Utica Comets (32-28-7-2) Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium to split the home-and-home series.
Jonas Johansson made just his second AHL start and Kyle Bonis recorded his first two-goal game since February of last year, with his ninth and 10th goals of the season. Amerks leading point-getter Cole Schneider extended his point streak to a season-long five straight games with an unassisted shorthanded goal with 48 seconds remaining to round out the scoring for Rochester. The Williamsville native sits eighth in the league for scoring with 56 points in 63 games.
Utica rookie Jake Virtanen recorded his first pro multi-goal game with two goals on the night, the second of which was helped by Comets goalie Thatcher Demko's fifth assist on the year. Forward Carter Bancks recorded his 10th goal of the season, and Darren Archibald tied a franchise record with his team-leading 22nd goal of the year behind a 20-save effort from Demko.
Bonis opened the scoring four minutes into the game, giving the Amerks a quick 1-0 lead off a 2-on-0 breakaway. The lead would be short-lived, however, as Joseph LaBate responded less than 2:30 later for Utica, converting on a shot from near center ice that trickled past Johansson.
The two teams were knotted at one apiece until Utica capitalized on a Jean Dupuy penalty late in the middle frame as Virtanen tallied his eighth of the year with a sharp angle wrist shot. The rookie's power-play goal gave Utica a lead they would carry through to the end of the game.
Sunday: Rochester 2 - Albany 1
The Albany Devils (35-30-2-3) got the lead early in the first, but were unable to get anything more than that as the Rochester Americans (29-38-0-2) rode a stellar 27-save effort from rookie goaltender Jonas Johansson to come away with a 2-1 win in the last of a three-game weekend Sunday afternoon at Times Union Center.
Paul Geiger opened scoring for the Amerks with his third on the season and second against his former club, and Derek Grant notched the game-winner with his seventh goal in six games. Mat Bodie assisted on both tallies while Johansson, who despite allowing the game's first goal just 5:05 into the contest, remained perfect the rest of the way in helping Rochester to its fifth win in the last six games.
Hours after being sent down from New Jersey, Albany's point leader John Quenneville notched his 13th goal of the season on the Devils only tally of the afternoon. Rookie netminder Mackenzie Blackwood made 15 saves while falling to 1-4-1 over his last six starts.
Nylander's NHL debut
Alexander Nylander made his NHL debut last night for the Buffalo Sabres in a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nylander, the eighth-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, skated 14:28 and earned some power-play time in the third period.
The newest episode of Amerks All-Access focuses on Nylander's journey to the NHL and his strong connections with his brother William (a rookie with the Maple Leafs) and his father Michael (who played in 920 NHL games).
The full episode debuts on Wednesday, but for now, check out this teaser:
The Amerks return home to kick-off a busy stretch of four games in five nights this week, beginning on Wednesday, April 5 against the Binghamton Senators at The Blue Cross Arena. All the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
Wednesday's game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 between the Amerks and Senators in Rochester, but was postponed due to inclement weather conditions.
Tickets for the March 15 game will be valid for the re-scheduled game on Wednesday or can be redeemed for any remaining regular season home game. For more information on all ticket options, please contact the Amerks ticket office at (585) 454-5335 to speak with a ticket sales associate.
The Amerks' third annual "Pink the Rink" Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Gilda's Club of Rochester will take place on Saturday, April 8 when the Amerks host the Utica Comets at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds from the game will be donated to Gilda's Club of Rochester, a non-profit organization committed to providing free networking and support groups, workshops, education and social activities for men, women teens and kids people of all ages affected by cancer.
As part of the Pink the Rink game, the Amerks will wear special-edition pink jerseys to promote breast cancer awareness. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase these jerseys through a silent auction held during the game on The Blue Cross Arena concourse. Following the game, the winners of the auction will be able to take the ice and be presented with a "jersey off the back" from the Amerks players.
Pink the Rink T-Shirt packages are on sale now. For just $25, fans can purchase a specialty pink Amerks T-shirt and one "best-available" ticket, with $2 from each package sold going to the game's overall fundraising effort. The packages can be purchased online here, in person at the Amerks office, or by phone at 1-855-GO-AMERKS.
In addition to the jersey auction and pink T-shirt packages, the Amerks will be selling a limited number of special Pink the Rink-themed Mystery Pucks, autographed by various Amerks players, for $10 on the main concourse during the game.
1. Cole Schneider: 21G - 36A - 57 PTS
2. Mat Bodie: 10G - 29A - 39 PTS
3. Nicholas Baptiste: 24G - 13A - 37 PTS
4. Justin Bailey: 20G - 10A - 30 PTS
5. Evan Rodrigues: 9G - 18A - 27 PTS
Alexander Nylander: 9G - 19A - 27 PTS
1. Linus Ullmark: 25-26-2; 2.86 GAA; .909 SV%
2. Jonas Johnasson: 2-1-0; 3.03 GAA; .895 SV%
3. John Muse: 2-8-0; 3.35 GAA; .898 SV%