(Rochester, NY) – For the first time nearly a month, the Rochester Americans (15-6-3-3) fell in regulation, coming up just short to the first-place Toronto Marlies (21-5-0-0) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the 3-2 loss, Rochester’s point streak was halted at a season-long 10 games and was just its second in regulation since Nov. 18. The Amerks have notched points in 16 of their last 18 games and 28 points since Nov. 1.
Forward Seth Griffith pushed his point streak to seven games as he notched a pair of assists while Alexander Nylander recorded his second multi-point outing of the season with his second goal of the campaign to go with a helper. Rookie defenseman Brendan Guhle capped the scoring for the Amerks with his sixth tally of the year as goaltender Linus Ullmark took his first loss in regulation since Oct. 28. Entering the night, the Swedish netminder showed a 9-0-3 in his last 12 starts.
Kerby Rychel and Ben Smith each delivered a three-point (1+2) performance to lead the Marlies to their league-leading 21st win of the campaign and 13th while on the road. Miro Aaltonen recorded his fourth marker of the campaign while netminder Calvin Pickard extended his career-long winning streak to eight games after making 32 saves.
With the game tied at 2-2, it appeared the contest between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference was heading towards overtime, but Smith scored the game-winning goal with 6:31 left regulation.
Crashing the slot from the left of Ullmark, Smith redirected a shot-pass out of the air and into the net to give the Marlies the go-ahead goal from Rychel and Jeremy Bracco.
“It was a great game,” said Guhle. “I think we out-chanced and out-shot them, but in the end of they got the better of us scoring late in the game.”
The Marlies scored the first goal of the game 5:06 into the contest as Rychel fired a shot past Ullmark’s right pad from Smith and defenseman Justin Holl. The marker was the forward’s sixth season and fifth point (1+4) in the last three games.
As the Amerks emerged from the first period intermission break trailing by a goal, they quickly flipped the deficit into a one-goal lead in a span 2:24 midway through stanza.
Griffith, who spent part of last season with the Marlies, carried the puck from the far blueline into the Toronto zone before sending a cross-ice pass to Guhle. The 20-year-old defenseman joined the rush and roofed a shot over the catching glove of Pickard at the 8:22 mark of the stanza.
Less than three minutes later, Nylander followed his initial shot with another that made its way through traffic to give the Amerks their first lead of the night with 9:14 left in the period. Griffith and Casey Nelson, who played in his 100th professional game, notched the helpers on the play.
“We were playing fast, getting pucks in deep and getting shots during the second period and were not turning the puck over and we did that for majority of the period,” said Guhle.
Rochester was on its way to carrying a 2-1 lead into the break but Aaltonen evened the game at 2-2 with just 27 seconds left in the period to set up a close-checking third period.
“I thought we played really well,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We had a lot of chances against a really good team. It was a really good game and a good fight but unfortunately they got a late goal in the third and it was the difference-maker. ”
The Amerks drew a pair of tripping infractions during the final 20 minutes but were unable to capitalize as Smith delivered the game-winner with 6:31 left in the period.
The Amerks hit the road on Saturday, Dec. 17 when they take on the Utica Comets for the second time in four days at the Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Guhle (6), Nylander (2)
TOR: Rychel (6), Aaltonen (4), Smith (11)
RCH: Ullmark – 21/24 (L)
TOR: Pickard – 32/34 (W)
RCH: PP (0/3) | PK (2/2)
TOR: PP (0/2) | PK (3/3)