BY WARREN KOZIRESKI — ROCHESTER, NY — Four overtime games in the 2022 postseason for Rochester and four 4-3 victories—this time in front of the first playoff sellout since 2000—as Arttu Ruotsalainen scored a power play goal 1:39 into overtime after a perfect cross-ice pass from Peyton Krebs for the game-winner and a two-games-to-one lead in their best-of five playoff series against the Utica Comets.
Amerks nemesis A.J. Greer scored his fourth goal in three games to stake Utica to a 1-0 lead, but Buffalo native Sean Malone tied it later in the period diving to poke home the rebound from a Jimmy Schuldt shot.
“I was going to do whatever it took to get to that puck; great shot by Jimmy–I actually thought he was going to pass it,” Malone said.
Two minutes later Rochester took a 2-1 lead as JJ Peterka found Lukas Rousek alone in front of the net.
“As soon as the puck came, I turned my head and saw Rousek back door; glad it worked out,” Peterka said.
But the Devils’ Fabian Zetterland scored a disputed power play goal midway through the second to tie the game 2-2.
Brandon Biro redirected a pass from Peterka past Utica goaltender Akira Schmid for his professional playoff goal with five minutes remaining in the second, but Utica’s Aarne Talvitie was credited with the tying goal as Jack Quinn kicked the puck in after a goal-mouth scramble with two minutes remaining in the second.
With 15 seconds left in a scoreless third period, Utica defenseman Robbie Russo was penalized for checking Rochester captain Michael Mersch in the head leading to the power play overtime game-winner.
Rochester was again playing with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
“You don’t like it as much when you have a forward get hurt…because you don’t how long overtime is going to be, so you start spin in your head how you can manage this,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said.
“I keep joking around that I didn’t know how many shifts I had left in me because we go back-to-back overtimes and both buildings are hot, but it’s just great to be a part of—great game,” Malone said.
Rochester will try to end the series Tuesday night on home ice. Game five, if necessary, is in Utica Thursday.
In the other North Division semi-final, Laval is at Syracuse for the fifth and final game of their 2-2 series for the right to advance to the division final.
(Amerks Hockey Photo)