(Rochester, NY) … The Rochester Americans (30-17-4-4) needed overtime for the third consecutive game on Saturday night at The Blue Cross Arena, but the Cleveland Monsters (24-26-3-2) picked up a 3-2 win 1:35 into the extra frame.
Despite the overtime loss, the Amerks, who have points in five straight games, remain in second place in the AHL’s North Division standings. Dating back to the start of the 2011-12 campaign, Rochester holds a record of 29-7-4-4 over Cleveland and has earned a point in all seven games so far this season (4-0-2-1) opposite the Monsters.
Forward Taylor Leier notched his eighth goal of the slate while rookie winger Brett Murray added his ninth goal for the Amerks. Lawrence Pilut, who earned his 100th AHL career assist, William Borgen and Rasmus Asplund all chipped in a helper. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (3-3-3) made his fifth start in the last six games but suffered the overtime loss.
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Trey Fix-Wolansky turned in a season-high three-point effort for Cleveland as he netted a pair of assists to go with his ninth goal of the campaign. Markus Hannikainen lit the lamp while Sam Vigneault sealed the overtime win with his career-high 10th tally. In his first appearance of his conditioning stint after suffering an injury on Dec. 29, Joonas Korpisalo made 32 saves to earn the victory.
With the game tied at 2-2, the game needed an overtime period to decide the winner, the fifth time in seven games this season between the clubs.
Both teams held possession of the puck in the extra stanza but neither could generate any chances until Fix-Wolansky gathered it inside the Cleveland zone. Dillon Simpson received a pass before sending Vigneault up the ice with an outlet pass. Vigneault raced around an Amerk skater on his way towards Luukkonen and then fired a shot past the catching glove to cap the 3-2 overtime win just 1:35 into the frame.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“He would have liked to have that one back,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said of Luukkonen after allowing the overtime-winning goal. “He, like our shooters, would have played a lot of things differently, but that is the way it is sometimes.”
The Monsters scored on their first two shots of the contest to build a 2-0 lead at the 7:35 mark of the opening period. Despite facing the two-goal deficit, the Amerks sliced Cleveland’s lead in half as Leier neatly tucked in his eighth marker of the season with 4:06 left in the frame.
WATCH: TAYLOR LEIER POST-GAME
“We showed mental toughness and did not give up,” said Leier. “When you’re down, guys need to step up and make plays. You also have to put the puck in the net. It starts inside your own zone, from your own blueline then continues further up the ice.”
“It was not the result in the end that we wanted,” offered assistant captain and veteran defenseman Andrew MacWilliam. “If I said I was not frustrated I’d being lying, but that’s what being a professional is all about. We just need to learn from it and come back on Monday ready to get back to work.”
Rochester trailed 2-1 at the conclusion of the first, and much like the opening 20 minutes of play, they continued to press to find the equalizer before Murray knotted the score at two with his ninth of the campaign.
WATCH: ANDREW MACWILLIAM POST-GAME
Connecting with a one-time feed from Borgen, Pilut, atop the left point, rifled a shot towards the cage. As luck would have it, the puck got caught in the feet of Murray and a Cleveland skater, but Murray dug it out and roofed a shot under the crossbar midway through the period.
During the final stanza, the Amerks eyed their first lead of the contest and outshot Cleveland 11-4, but the game remained tied after 60 minutes, requiring overtime to determine a winner.
WATCH: BRETT MURRAY POST-GAME
“I liked how we were able to get back into the game after trailing,” Taylor said. “We are frustrated with the result, but the positive is we got back into the game. We could have let the game get away from us, but we didn’t. We got close to 35 shots on net and made a game out of it.”
Rochester’s season-long six-game homestand continues on Wednesday, Feb. 26 when the Amerks host the intrastate rival Utica Comets in a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.