The Rochester Americans closed out the 2011-12 regular season on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters in a winner-take-all matchup at Quicken Loans Arena. With the win, Rochester finishes the campaign with a record of 36-26-10-4 (86 points) and keeps the Amerks playoff hopes alive heading into the final day of the season.
Luke Adam scored the game-winning goal 4:14 into the third period and David Leggio stopped all 16 shots he faced in the final frame as the Amerks held on to defeat the Monsters for the fifth time in six meetings with Lake Erie this season. Leggio, who set a new single-season career-high with his 28th win of the season, was stellar between the pipes, turning aside 35 of 36 shots in his 23rd consecutive start.
Former Amerk Patrick Rissmiller netted the lone goal for the Monsters, who concluded the campaign with a 37-29-3-7 record in the Western Conference. Cedrick Desjardins made 24 stops in the losing effort.
Rochester opened the scoring at 7:52 of the first period when Paul Szczechura notched his 21st goal of the season to match his AHL career-high for goals in a season. Brayden McNabb pinched in from his spot on the right point and carried the puck toward the corner before sending a perfect pass to Szczechura at the far post, where the center tapped the puck in past Desjardins to give the Amerks an early lead and extend his point streak to four games (2+2). Marcus Foligno also assisted on the goal, giving him his fifth point in the last three games.
Lake Erie began the second period on the power-play and took just 10 seconds to even the score at one apiece. Mike Connolly held the puck in at the blueline and got it to Karl Stollery, who then found Rissmiller open in the left face-off circle. Rissmiller collected the feed and snapped a quick shot past Leggio to tie the game.
The teams traded chances throughout the second period, particularly in the closing seconds. After Rochester nearly capitalized on a goal-mouth scramble, the Monsters transitioned the other way on a two-on-one, but Leggio was there to deny the opportunity and the score remained 1-1 heading into the third period.
Adam scored the eventual game-winning goal at 4:14 of the third period as he corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone and rushed up the right side. He then cut to the middle of the ice and fired a shot high over the left shoulder of Desjardins for his fourth goal of the season. Mark Voakes collected the lone assist on the goal.