TORONTO, ONT. -- Jonathan Parker scored his first two goals of the season to help the Rochester Americans stage another late-game rally, but it wasn’t enough as the Amerks fell just short in a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Marlies Saturday evening at Ricoh Coliseum. Jake Gardiner (2+1) and Nazem Kadri (1+2) led the Marlies with three points apiece, while veteran forward Keith Aucoin checked in with a pair of assists. Ben Scrivens turned away 32 of 35 shots to earn his eighth win of the season and help Toronto improve to 4-0-0-0 against Rochester this season.
This was the third meeting in the last four games between the North Division rivals and the second in as many weeks as Rochester fell to 10-9-2-0 on the season.
Facing a 4-0 deficit late in the second period, the Amerks reeled off three unanswered goals, including two in the third period, only to have their comeback attempt fall short. Parker jumpstarted the rally with a pair of markers before Luke Adam found the back of the net in the closing minute to bring Rochester within a goal. York-native Connor Knapp got his second straight start in goal for the Amerks after making 41 saves in Friday’s win over Adirondack to earn his first pro victory.
Toronto got off to a quick start on Saturday, scoring twice in the first 5:37 of the game to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. First, Kadri scored his third goal in the last two games against the Amerks, netting his sixth of the season off of assists from Gardiner and Matt Frattin.
Three minutes later, the Marlies increased their lead to 2-0 when Ryan Hamilton got one past Knapp for his eighth goal of the season. Aucoin and Simon Gysbers collected the helpers.
Midway through the second period, Gardiner scored two power-play goals in a span of less than a minute. His first came during a 4-on-3 advantage on a one-timer from the high slot off a feed from Kadri. Then at the start of a new power-play, a face-off win by Aucoin and a quick feed from Kadri resulted in another one-time goal by Gardiner.
Parker got Rochester on the board at the 13:44 mark of the second period with his first goal of the season. Brayden McNabb found Parker open on the goal line near the left post, and Parker collected the pass, turned, and banked it in off Scrivens for the goal. Mark Mancari also added an assist on the goal.
Parker would score again late in the third period off a great pass from Kevin Sundher. Following a dump-in, Sundher chased down a loose puck in the corner and made a backhanded pass to the slot, where Parker quickly snapped a shot past Scrivens while getting hauled down by a Toronto defender to make it a 4-2 game.
Rochester pulled within one with just a minute left to play in regulation as Adam converted a pass from Kevin Porter to make it a 4-3 game. With Knapp on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Alex Biega made a great play at the blueline to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone. Porter, stationed at the left half-wall, then gained possession and slide a cross-ice pass to Adam, who one-timed it past Scrivens for his third goal of the season.
The Amerks would once again nearly convert on another last-minute 6-on-5 opportunity to force the game to overtime, but the Toronto defense and Scrivens foiled Rochester’s comeback attempt and held on for the win.
The Amerks return home on Tuesday to host the first-place Abbotsford Heat at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. The North Division matchup will be the third of eight scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.