The Rochester Americans kicked off their busy month of February with a 3-0 win over the Abbotsford Heat at The Blue Cross Arena on Thursday night. The victory was the second straight for Rochester and brings them to within three points of first-place Toronto for the top spot in the American Hockey League’s North Division.
David Leggio was spectacular between the pipes for the Amerks all night, turning aside all 33 Abbotsford shots to earn his first shutout of the season. The 27-year-old goaltender’s first-star performance was highlighted by a pair of breakaway denials early in the third period to protect Rochester’s lead.
“We had outstanding goaltending and that keeps you in there to get your legs,” said Head Coach Ron Rolston. “As the game went on, I thought we got a little crisper and both teams tried to play as much as they could in the other team’s end. That becomes a physical game when there are a lot of bodies in the zone and guys banging around.”
Nick Crawford, Phil Varone, and Travis Turnbull each contributed a goal apiece offensively for Rochester, while Marcus Foligno chipped-in a pair of assists as the Amerks scored at even strength, shorthanded and on the power play in front of a crowd 4,483. Paul Szczechura and Brayden McNabb each had an assist as well, as McNabb was playing in his first game with the Amerks since Nov. 25 after being re-assigned from the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the day.
Heat netminder Leland Irving, making his first start for the club since December 3, finished with 18 saves in the loss.
The Amerks wasted little time in lighting the lamp, as they jumped out to a 1-0 advantage just 1:35 into the contest. Crawford accepted a cross-ice pass at the right point from Foligno and released a quick wrister that found its way through a screen and past Irving.
After more than 40 minutes of scoreless play, Rochester doubled its lead to 2-0 with a shorthanded goal 2:56 into the final frame. Varone opted to shoot while on a two-on-one, shorthanded rush with Foligno and beat Irving to the glove side with a wrist shot from the left circle. The tally represented Varone’s sixth of the season and 19th point in the last 22 games.
Turnbull added a power-play goal with just under four minutes to go in regulation to provide some insurance, roofing a rebound from the low slot over a sprawled Irving.
Rochester and Abbotsford will square off for the second time in as many nights on Friday at The Blue Cross Arena as the two teams complete the first half of their season series. Game time is slated for 7:35 p.m. and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.