A third period rally by the Rochester Americans turned into a 4-3 shootout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. With the shootout loss, the Amerks moved to 4-1-0-1 over their last six games as the team began a three-game road trip.
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Phil Varone, Derek Whitmore and Maxime Leagult each scored a goal for Rochester while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jason Williams finished with a goal and two assists. Eric Tangradi scored the game-tying goal to force overtime, then netted the shootout-deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout. Amerks goalie Drew MacIntyre made 29 saves through regulation and overtime before stopping five of eight attempts in the shootout. Corey Tropp returned to the Rochester lineup after a recall to the parent Buffalo Sabres and tallied an assist in his first game with the Amerks since Dec. 2.
The Amerks got on the board first when Varone scored his third goal of the season. Moments after a Rochester power play expired, Tropp carried the puck into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton zone and dropped a pass to Marcus Foligno, who fired a one-timer at the Penguins’ net. Foligno’s offering was stopped by Penguins netminder Brad Thiessen, but Varone found the rebound in the crease and back-handed it in to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead at 17:11 of the opening period. Varone’s goal extended his point streak to five games (2+4) while Foligno now has at least one assist in three straight games. Tropp’s assist was his first point in an Amerks uniform since Oct. 29.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton evened the score at one apiece with 8:53 remaining in the second period. Bryan Lerg rushed the puck up the right side and left a pass for Williams, who took the pass in stride and fired a low wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle that found its way just inside the far goal post. Lerg and Brian Strait assisted on the goal.
The Penguins took a 2-1 lead later in the middle frame when Alex Grant scored his first goal of the season. With the home team on the power play, Grant teed up a slap shot from the left half-wall that deflected off the leg of a Rochester penalty killer and bounced past MacIntyre. Williams recorded an assist for his second point of the night while Ben Street also collected an assist on the goal.
In the opening minutes of the third period, Rochester tied the score at two when Whitmore tallied his team-leading 15th goal of the season. Whitmore and Shawn Szydlowski combined on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 rush, with Szydlowski sliding a cross-ice pass to Whitmore, who took the pass and flipped it past Thiessen for the goal.
Later in the period, the Amerks regained the lead when Legault scored a shorthanded goal. With Thiessen attempting to play the puck in the corner, Igor Gongalsky applied pressure and stole the puck from the Penguins goalie. Gongalsky found Legault trailing the play, and Legault fired a shot into the net as Thiessen scrambled to get back into the crease. The goal was Legault’s third of the season while Gongalsky’s assist was his first point as an Amerk.
The lead was short-lived however, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton capitalized on a power play less than two minutes later after Rochester had finished killing a two-man disadvantage. A scramble in front of the net resulted in the puck trickling past the goal line to tie the game at three. Tangradi was credited with the goal while Williams picked up an assist for his third point of the game.
After a scoreless overtime period, the game went to a shootout, where Tangradi scored the winner in the eighth round. Paul Szczechura and Jonathan Parker each scored in the shootout for the Amerks while MacIntyre stopped five of eight attempts.
The Amerks return to action at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday when they travel to Binghamton to face the Senators. It will be the fourth of eight meetings between the teams this season and the first since Nov. 11. The game can be heard live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.