The Rochester Americans received a pair of goals from Cody McCormick and David Leggio stopped all 44 shots as the Amerks pushed their winning streak to three games with a 5-0 rout of the Abbotsford Heat Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The game was the first of two on the weekend between the North Division rivals, who will meet again for the final time this season on Sunday afternoon in Rochester.
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Brayden McNabb registered his second straight three-point game, scoring a goal and assisting on two others, while Nick Tarnasky and Luke Adam each chipped in two points (1+1) for the Amerks, who gained the upper-hand in the season series with Abbotsford and moved into a tie with Lake Erie for second place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
Leggio turned in another flawless performance en route to his third shutout of the season and setting a new career-high with his AHL-leading 29th win of the campaign. His 44 saves were also a career-high for saves in a shutout.
Leland Irving and Danny Taylor combined for 21 saves in the loss for Abbotsford, which dropped its third straight despite outshooting the Amerks 44-26 throughout the contest, including 17-7 in the third period.
The Amerks opened a 2-0 lead as McCormick found the back of the net twice in a span of 17 seconds, with his first coming just 12 ticks into Rochester’s first power-play opportunity of the game at 5:18 of the first period. After taking a pass from Mark Mancari, McCormick moved into the left circle and snapped a shot through the legs of Matt Ellis, who was posted at the top of the crease, and past a screened Irving to put the Amerks in front. With the assist, Mancari has recorded six points (3+3) over his current four-game point streak, while Mark Pysyk also picked up a helper on McCormick’s first goal as an Amerk.
Rochester needed just 17 seconds after the ensuing face-off as McCormick struck again to give the Amerks a two-goal advantage. Rick Schofield attempted to set up McNabb with a one-timer from the high slot, but McNabb instead connected with McCormick to the right of the cage, where he deposited a back-hander into the wide-open net. The goal would prompt a goalie change for Abbotsford, sending Taylor in to replace Irving, who finished his brief stint between the pipes with just two saves on four shots in only 5:35 of action.
McNabb put the Amerks up 3-0 late in the middle frame on the power-play when his blast from just inside the blueline took a bizarre bounce and ended up behind Taylor. McNabb missed high and wide of net with a one-timer off a Nick Crawford feed, but the puck would carom off the end glass and glance off the back of Taylor before trickling over the goal line.
Tarnasky’s 13th goal of the season put the game out of reach as he converted Adam’s centering feed 4:16 into the third period to make it a 4-0 game. Adam made a spectacular move to beat his defender to the outside with an open lane to the net, and at the last minute, sent a pass through the goal-mouth to Tarnasky, who flipped it to the upper right corner. McNabb earned his third point of the night with another assist, giving Rochester’s All-Star blueliner seven points (1+6) over his last three games as he took over the team lead in scoring among defensemen.
Adam capped the high-scoring affair with a power-play tally late in the final frame, finishing off a nifty passing play with McCormick and Phil Varone to give Rochester the 5-0 win.
The Amerks’ busy weekend continues as they make their way to the southern tier to face the Binghamton Senators on Saturday, March 9 at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the seventh of eight get-togethers between the intrastate foes this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.