(Allentown, PA) … Despite tying the game with just over six minutes left in regulation and registering a season-high 51 shots on goal, the Rochester Americans (24-13-2-1) could not take the lead as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (22-15-2-2) to close out their three-game road swing Saturday night at the PPL Center.
Despite the shootout loss in Allentown, however, the Amerks were able to earn a valuable point to reclaim sole possession of the top spot in the AHL’s North Division standings. Rochester has also now picked up 13 points in seven of its last 10 games, including three out of a possible four this weekend.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Amerks forwards Kevin Porter (1+1) and Wayne Simpson (0+2) each turned in a multi-point effort while Matt Tennyson tallied his second goal of the campaign. Goaltender Adam Wilcox stopped 22 of 24 shots he faced but was handed the loss. The game also featured the Amerks debut of forward Taylor Leier, who was acquired via trade just two days ago from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Justin Bailey. Leier recorded one shot in the loss against his former team.
Connor Bunnaman and Greg Carey each found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley, which shows a 3-6-1-0 record in its last 10 games, while netminder Alex Lyon made a career-high 49 shots to improve to 10-9-1 on the season.
At the conclusion of the overtime period, the Amerks, who held a 51-24 shot advantage, and the Phantoms needed the shootout to determine a winner as the game was tied at 2-2.
Lehigh Valley elected to shoot first in the skills competition and Mike Huntebrinker converted in the opening round to put the pressure on Rochester’s C.J. Smith, Victor Olofsson and Simpson. Lyon, however, stood tall like he did for most of regulation, securing the Phantoms the extra point.
The game was scoreless for the first 25:39 until Bunnaman gave Lehigh Valley its first lead of the night as he beat Wilcox on a breakaway opportunity. The Amerks, however, quickly responded less than two minutes later and tied the game at 1-1.
The Phantoms tried to carry the puck out of their own zone but Smith, who entered the contest riding a season-long five-game point streak, forced a turnover just outside the blueline. Gathering the puck in transition, Simpson sprinted into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush with Porter. Simpson fired a shot off the right pad of Lyon but Porter buried the rebound for his seventh goal of the year.
With his secondary assist, Smith pushed his point streak to a career-best six games and has posted 16 points (9+7) over his last 11 games dating back to Dec. 14, including a four-point effort last Saturday in Toronto.
It appeared the contest was heading into the second intermission tied at 1-1, but prior to the buzzer, Carey reclaimed Lehigh Valley’s one-goal lead as he scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season off a one-time feed from Mike Vecchione.
Facing a one-goal deficit midway through the final 20 minutes of regulation, Tennyson forced the contest to go beyond regulation as the blueliner knotted the score at 2-2 at the 13:49 mark of the period.
Moments after failing to score on their seventh power-play of the night, Simpson weaved his way into the offensive zone and handed a pass to Porter at the left half-wall. As the Amerks team captain shifted in-between the face-off dots, he connected a pass to Tennyson, who wired a shot over the shoulder of the opposition’s goaltender.
The extra session saw the Amerks double the Phantoms in shots yet again, but the hosts prevailed in the shootout on Huntebrinker’s eventual game-winner in the first round.
The Amerks return to action for their final three games before the All-Star break beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 23 when they host the intrastate rival Binghamton Devils at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. The contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Porter (7), Tennyson (2)
LV: Bunnaman (12), Carey (19), Huntebrinker (SO GWG)
ROC: Wilcox – 22/24 (SOL)
LV: Lyon – 49/51 (W)
ROC: PP (0/7) | PK (2/2)
LV: PP (0/2) | PK (7/7)
1. Alex Lyon (LV)
2. Mike Huntebrinker (LV)
3. Greg Carey (LV)