(Rochester, NY) … The Rochester Americans (21-10-2-3) allowed two shorthanded goals and were unable to find the offensive spark that they needed in suffering a 5-1 loss to the Belleville Senators (21-13-2-1) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The contest was the third game between the two clubs in three weeks and the third of the six-game season series.
Despite the loss, the Amerks show a 16-7-1-2 record over their last 26 games dating back to Nov. 1, earning points in 19 games over that span.
Forward C.J Smith scored his sixth goal of the season midway through the second period while on the power-play for the lone Rochester tally. Andrew Oglevie, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous seven games, and Kevin Porter each picked up helpers on the marker. Casey Fitzgerald also returned to the lineup after he missed the last 11 contests.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Goaltender Jonas Johansson (11-3-3) made his second consecutive start in the crease but suffered his first regulation loss since Oct. 30. Coming into tonight, the AHL All-Star netminder was 9-0-1 in his previous 10 appearances. Johansson made 13 saves before being replaced by Andrew Hammond (10-7-2) at the 15:29 mark of the second period. Hammond stopped six shots he faced in nearly 22 minutes played.
Alex Formenton helped Belleville open up its 16-day, eight-game road-trip with three goals while Vitaly Abramov and Jean-Christophe Beaudin rounded the scoring as they both tacked on a goal. Second-year goaltender Filip Gustavsson made 35 saves on the night to improve to 6-2-2 on the season as he earned the win.
After the Amerks were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage in the first two minutes of the opening stanza, Formenton gave the visitors their first lead of the night as he slipped a shot inside the right arm of Johansson at the 4:55 mark.
WATCH: KEVIN PORTER POST-GAME
As the first frame was dwindling down, again Rochester drew another power-play only to see Josh Norris intercept an errant pass as the Amerks blueline before gathering it to the left of Johansson. Norris fired a shot from the right circle that caromed off the Rochester netminder and then off Formenton and into the net to give the Senators a 2-0 lead going into the intermission.
“Our power-play definitely has to be better,” explained Porter. “We can’t give up two shorthanded goals; it just kills your momentum. During the second one, I thought we were playing well, but we gave up despite getting opportunities. It just killed the momentum.”
“I really liked our start,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “The first 10 minutes of the game we had 12 or 13 shots on net, and even if Belleville scored one or two goals, we are still a good team. There is a reason why we are atop the standings. We know how to score, we know how to win, but for some reason tonight, I felt we panicked.”
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
Midway through the second period, the Amerks were able to give the hometown crowd of nearly 8,500 something to celebrate as Smith brought Rochester within one with 10:55 to go in the frame.
Prior to the power-play goal, Rochester kept the Senators inside their own zone for the first 1:17 thanks to outstanding efforts by Porter, Oglevie, Smith, John Gilmour and Brett Murray.
“It has been a tough stretch for me personally, but it was nice to finally get a goal,” said Smith after scoring his first goal since Dec. 14. “As much as the personal accomplishments, I would like to also get some team results.”
WATCH: C.J. SMITH POST-GAME
Belleville countered the Smith tally with two goals in less than two minutes to take a 4-1 cushion into the second period.
“We had a lot of shots on net, a lot of opportunities, a lot of missed shots, but we just have to be better and find ways to finish around the net,” said Taylor. “The mistakes we’re making are uncharacteristic of a lot of different guys, especially with the experience that they have.”
WATCH: JOHN GILMOUR POST-GAME
During the final 20 minutes of play, Rochester attempted to crawl its way back, but Gustavsson turned aside all 14 shots he faced before Formenton capped off the three-goal performance and 5-1 victory as he added an empty-netter.
The Amerks close out the weekend on Saturday, Jan. 11 as they face-off with the Syracuse Crunch at the War Memorial Arena. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth between the two North Division rivals this season after Rochester took the first three meetings all by one-goal margins and a combined score of 14-11. The matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: C. Smith (6)
BEL: A. Formenton (17, 18 – GWG, 19), V. Abramov (15), J. Beaduin (2)
ROC: J. Johansson – 13/16 (L) | Andrew Hammond – 6/7 (ND)
BEL: F. Gustavsson – 35/36 (W)
ROC: PP (1/5) | PK (5/5)
BEL: PP (0/5) | PK (4/5)
1. A. Formenton (BEL)
2. F. Gustavsson (BEL)
3. V. Abramov (BEL)