Despite erasing a pair of one-goal deficits, it was Will Acton’s game-winning goal 5:14 into overtime that gave the Toronto Marlies a 3-2 win over the Rochester Americans in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The Marlies win the best-of-five series 3-0 for the second straight year and become the first team to advance to the second round of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.
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Zemgus Girgensons and Nick Tarnasky each scored in regulation for the Amerks and David Leggio made 27 saves in the loss for Rochester, which had its season halted on home ice for the second straight year.
Greg Scott and Greg McKegg found the back of the net for the visiting Marlies through the first 60 minutes and Drew MacIntyre made 37 saves in the win to help Toronto to its second three-game sweep of the Amerks in as many years.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Marlies edge the Amerks in shots, Toronto found the scoreboard first for the third straight game of the series as Scott capped off a three-on-one short-handed rush with his AHL-leading fifth goal of the postseason. With the Marlies skating a man-down thanks to a goaltender interference penalty to Kenny Ryan, Jerry D’Amigo collected a loose puck at his own blueline and carried it down the right wing boards into Rochester’s zone. D’Amigo, opting to pass, left it for a trailing Scott and the Toronto forward, who scored four goals in Game 1 of the series, wristed a shot over Leggio’s left shoulder to give the Marlies a 1-0 lead at 6:19.
The Amerks knotted the game up at one apiece with 5:40 remaining in the second period when Girgensons scored his team-leading third of the playoffs. Johan Larsson bumped his defender off the puck in the left corner and made a centering feed to Girgensons stationed in the high slot. The rookie forward showed tremendous poise and patience, making a move to his left and waiting for Brad Ross to slide by before tying the game with a blast to the upper left corner from the top of the circle. Larsson earned his team-leading third assist of the playoffs while Matt MacKenzie registered his first point of the postseason with an assist on the tally.
The Marlies would soon regain the lead, though, adding another goal late in the middle frame as McKegg snapped one by Leggio with just 42 seconds remaining in the period. Mike Zigomanis made a steal at center ice and darted his way into the Amerks zone. Recognizing he had McKegg following the play, Zigomanis made a nifty drop pass between his legs to McKegg , who picked up the offer inside the blueline and banked a shot off the left post to send the Marlies into the second intermission with a 2-1 advantage.
Rochester erased its deficit with 4:03 to play in the third period after Tarnasky fired a shot through traffic that pinballed its way into the net to make it a 2-2 game. Off the rush, and nearing the end of his shift, Tarnasky sent a low wrister from the left circle on net that appeared to carom off a skate in front and glance off the far post before trickling over the goal-line to send the game to overtime.
Toronto needed just 5:14 into the extra frame to claim the series when Acton tipped in Kevin Marshall’s slap-shot from the right point past Leggio for the game-winner, effectively putting an end to the 2012-13 season for Rochester.
Girgensons (3+0) and Larsson (0+3) led the Amerks in scoring during the postseason, as each rookie forward tallied three points in the series. Rochester was making its 43rd postseason appearance in the 57-year history of the franchise.