(Rochester, NY) … The first-place Rochester Americans’ (33-17-3-2) bid for a fifth straight win came up short as the red-hot Belleville Senators (29-23-3-4) overcame a pair of one-goal deficits and handed the Amerks a 5-3 loss Saturday at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite the loss, however, the Amerks have collected 25 out of a possible 36 points in their last 18 games and have earned at least one point in seven of their 11 meetings with the Senators dating back to last season. Rochester has also notched 33 points in its last 25 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26 and maintain a two-point lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings heading into the final week of February.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
With his second two-point outing in the last four games since returning from a three-month absence due to injury, rookie forward Andrew Oglevie scored a goal and later added an assist in the third period. Sean Malone, who appeared in his 100th professional game, opened the scoring with his third of the season while former Senator Tyler Randell also added his third goal of the slate. Goaltender Adam Wilcox stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced but took the defeat.
Forwards Nick Paul and Darren Archibald each tallied a pair of goals for Belleville, which extended its point streak to a franchise-long 15 games with the victory. Andreas Englund (0+2) and Stefan Elliott (1+1) also turned in a two-point night while netminder Marcus Hogberg improved to 13-4-4 on the season as he made 32 saves. Over his last nine appearances, the Swedish goaltender has an 8-0-1 record.
WATCH: LAWRENCE PILUT POST-GAME
After the Amerks grabbed a 2-1 lead at the 9:44 mark of the second period, the Senators tallied a pair of goals 4:11 apart – with their first coming just 22 seconds after Rochester’s second goal of the game – to take a 3-2 lead into the final period of regulation.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” said defenseman Lawrence Pilut, who rejoined the Amerks after spending the last three months with the Buffalo Sabres. “We battled hard, but we had the puck bounces against us tonight.”
During the third period, Belleville used a quick-strike attack as they doubled its lead with 5:10 left to play before adding an empty-netter to make it a three-goal cushion at the 17:30 mark.
WATCH: ANDREW OGLEVIE POST-GAME
The Amerks made it a 5-3 score as Randell redirected a shot from in-between the circles of the Senators zone from Oglevie and Andrew MacWilliam, but it was too little too late as the home club took the loss, their third straight defeat to Belleville.
“For some reason, we didn’t play as a complete unit,” said Oglevie. “Coach brought that up in-between periods and we need to play as one. At times we were a little disjointed and it came back to haunt us.”
Despite being whistled for three penalties in the first 9:12 of the contest, Rochester opened the scoring seven seconds before the end of the third infraction. With the puck along the far boards in the neutral zone, Wayne Simpson dumped it in behind Hogberg and went off for a line change. Pressuring the netminder behind the cage, C.J. Smith, who was reassigned earlier in the day by the parent Buffalo Sabres, intercepted Hogberg’s attempt to whip it around the boards and quickly centered a pass to Malone atop the crease. With a near wide-open net, Malone banged in his third goal of the campaign at the 11:04 mark.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“We had good first chances, but I don’t think we made it hard on their goaltender during the second and third chances,” Smith said. “We need to do a better job at getting to the net and make it harder for him to make those second and third saves.”
Rochester carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but Belleville outscored the Amerks 5-2 over the final 40 minutes of regulation.
“It wasn’t one of our better games, but we still had some grade-A chances tonight,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said. “We didn’t seem to have it tonight as we were fumbling the puck and just could not get it by their goaltender to tie the game, especially in the third when he made six unbelievable saves.”
The Amerks bring the month of February to a close with a return trip back to Utica on Wednesday, Feb. 27 to exchange pleasantries with the Comets for the second time in six days. The 7:00 p.m. North Division matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Malone (3), Oglevie (3), Randell (3)
BEL: Elliott (7), Archibald (14, 15), Paul (10, 11 – GWG)
ROC: Wilcox – 21/25 (L)
BEL: Hogberg – 34/37 (W)
ROC: PP (0/3) | PK (4/4)
BEL: PP (0/4) | PK (3/3)
1. Nick Paul (BEL)
2. Darren Archibald (BEL)
3. Stefan Elliott (BEL)