The Rochester Americans fell to the Syracuse Crunch 5-3 on Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena as Syracuse’s Brett Connolly and Danick Gauthier each finished with a goal and an assist in front of a 28-save performance from goaltender and Dustin Tokarski.
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Alex Killorn also chipped in a pair of assists as the Crunch improved to a league-best 23-7-2-3 record and earned their first win against the Amerks this season after dropping the first two meetings of the season series.
Mark Mancari, Luke Adam and Brian Flynn each scored for Rochester, while David Leggio turned away 40 of 45 shots he faced in the losing effort as the Amerks fell to 17-14-2-1 on the season.
Syracuse opened the scoring midway through the first period as Connolly knocked home Dmitry Korobov’s rebound to put the Crunch up 1-0. After a clean faceoff win by Connolly back to the point, Korobov boomed a slap-shot from just inside the blueline, but the rebound would bounce out to the low slot, allowing Connolly to fire it to the back of net for his 14th goal of the season at 10:25.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Mancari converted Kevin Porter’s pass off a 2-on-1 rush just minutes later to tie the game at one apiece. Amerks defenseman Joe Finley retrieved a loose puck to the left of Leggio and made a long outlet pass to Porter, who caught the pass in stride and entered the Syracuse zone along the left-wing boards. Recognizing he had Mancari breaking to his right, the Amerks captain made a quick pass over to his linemate and the veteran forward slipped a shot under the right arm of Tokarski to make it a 1-1 game.
The goal, Mancari’s ninth of the season, gives him three in his last four games and 15 points (6+9) over his last 12 outings, while Porter has now collected six points (1+5) through his last four appearances.
The Crunch appeared to reclaim the lead late in the opening frame with a goal from Vladislav Namestnikov, but it would be immediately disallowed by referee Trent Knorr as Syracuse defenseman Radko Gudas barged into Leggio moments before Namestnikov’s shot crossed the goal-line.
Richard Panik restored the Crunch’s lead 6:50 into the second stanza, snapping a shot over the glove of Leggio from the top of the left circle to give Syracuse the 2-1 advantage. Ondrej Palat notched the lone assist on the goal, extending Panik’s goal-scoring streak to four games.
Mike Angelidis gave the Crunch a two-goal cushion 4:04 later, capitalizing on Killorn’s pass from the left corner to put Syracuse ahead 3-1. Seconds after his holding penalty expired, Killorn jumped on a loose puck deep in the Rochester zone and found a wide-open Angelidis at the top of the crease, where the Crunch captain one-touched Killorn’s offer to the back of the net for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Rochester pulled within a goal with just 34 seconds left in the second period as Evan Rankin set up Adam on the power-play. T.J. Brennan’s initial bid from the point went wide of the net, but Rankin, posted to the right of Tokarski, collected the puck off the end-boards and sent a quick pass to Adam, who redirected it under the crossbar to make it a 3-2 contest heading into the second intermission.
With the secondary assist, Brennan now shows a team-leading 32 points (12+20) through 34 games this season and has earned an assist in each of his last three games.
The Amerks evened things up at 11:25 of the third period when Flynn swatted Nick Tarnasky’s rebound out of the air to knot the score at 3-3. Tarnasky ripped a shot from the left face-off circle, but Tokarski failed to control the rebound, leading to Flynn’s 11th goal of the season.
The Crunch needed just another 55 seconds to regain the lead, as Connolly and Philip-Michael Devos set up Gauthier for a goal-line tap-in before J.T. Wyman added an insurance tally late in the frame to give Syracuse the 5-3 win.
The Amerks remain at home Friday, Jan. 11 as they host the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs on Men’s Health Night at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.