The Rochester Americans fell behind by three goals late in the second period before eventually falling to the Milwaukee Admirals 3-1 Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss is the eighth in a row for the Amerks, who currently sit on the cusp of the Western Conference playoff picture at 30-26-6-4 heading into the final 10 games of the regular season.
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The matchup marked the first time in over seven years the Admirals have traveled to Rochester to play the Amerks and just the 14th time the teams have met in their respective histories. The Admirals defeated the Amerks 2-1 in an overtime thriller back on March 2 in Milwaukee.
Kevin Sundher scored the lone goal for the Amerks early in the third period, his sixth of the season, and Andrey Makarov denied 29 of 32 shots thrown his way. Makarov has been a bright spot for the Amerks since his March 17th call-up from Fort Wayne of the ECHL, stopping 62 shots in two starts for a .925 save percentage.
Miika Salomaki scored two goals and Mark Van Guilder also scored for the visiting Admirals in front of a 15-save effort from goaltender Marek Mazanec.
Makarov was solid in the opening 10 minutes of the game, stuffing Austin Watson with the left pad on a quick give-and-go play, followed by another strong save on a back-door attempt from Francis Wathier.
The Admirals were the first to get on the board with 2:47 remaining in the opening period when Salomaki poked home a rebound off of a shot from Anthony Bitetto. The Admirals added their second goal just 1:01 later when Van Guilder slammed home a loose puck on a broken 2-on-2 play to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Despite two power-play opportunities during the second period, the Amerks failed to cut into Milwaukee’s lead and the Admirals would tally their third goal on Salomaki’s second of the night with 3:14 remaining in the middle frame.
After only managing six shots through the first two periods, the Amerks carried the offensive play for most of the final period in an attempt to mount a comeback. They quickly struck with their first goal 1:37 into the third period when Phil Varone threw a back-hand pass to the front of the net for Sundher, who emphatically slammed the puck into the net, bringing the score to 3-1 in favor of Milwaukee.
Kevin Porter nearly brought the Amerks within a single goal with 15:28 remaining in regulation, when the veteran forward rang the puck off of the right post from the high slot. Fortunately for Milwaukee, though, the puck bounced to the corner and out of harm’s way.
The post would factor in once again with just over five minutes remaining, this time off of the stick of Dan Catenacci. Immediately after Catenacci’s shot, the Admirals turned the puck up ice to Joonas Rask for a breakaway, but Rask was quickly hauled down by defenseman Nick Petrecki and awarded a penalty shot. On his attempt, Rask skated straight down the middle and shot glove-side, but Makarov turned him aside to keep the Amerks within striking distance.
Rochester called a timeout with one minute remaining and pulled Makarov for the extra attacker, but Mazanec swallowed up the puck to secure the win for the Admirals.
Rochester’s push to the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs continues on Friday, March 28 when the Amerks and Toronto Marlies meet for the second time this week at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the seventh of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel 26.