Akeson, Amerks Sink Pirates in Overtime
(Rochester, NY) - The Rochester Americans snapped their three-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime win over the Portland Pirates Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. Jason Akeson scored the game-winner 2:03 into the bonus session and helped set up Rochester's first goal of the game while Linus Ullmark matched a season-high 43 saves on 44 shots to help the Amerks improve to 24-24-2-1 on the season.
Also scoring in the win for Rochester was Dan Catenacci, who returned to the Amerks earlier today from his first career NHL stint with the Buffalo Sabres, while Chad Ruhwedel, Cal O'Reilly and Evan Rodrigues each registered an assist. Akeson reclaimed the team's scoring lead with his first two-point effort since Dec. 18 and his overtime goal broke a 14-game goal-scoring drought going back to Jan. 10.
Corban Knight scored the lone goal for Portland, which made its first trip back to Rochester in six years, and Sam Brittain posted 36 saves in the loss for the Pirates.
Catenacci put the Amerks in front following a scoreless first period after picking the upper corner off a centering feed from Akeson just 2:49 into the middle frame. Facing pressure at the right point, Ruhwedel made a nifty play at the blueline to keep the puck in the offensive zone before moving it low to Akeson. The veteran forward corralled it off the end boards and sent a quick pass toward the slot to Catenacci, who zipped a shot through the legs of Portland's Sena Acolatse and under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead. The goal extended Catenacci's point streak to a season-long six straight games dating back to Jan. 22.
Rochester had a number of chances later in the period, but a series of saves by Brittain kept it a one-goal game for Portland. Ruhwedel had the best chance just beyond the midway point when he was left all alone in the slot, but was unable capitalize. The rookie netminder came up big again for the Pirates just minutes later, robbing Jerry D'Amigo with a point-blank stop before teaming up with the right post to deny Justin Bailey's bid for his 11th of the season.
The Pirates eventually answered with 3:46 remaining in the second period as Knight finished a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe passing play to knot the score at one apiece. John McFarland attacked the net from the left side and dropped it for Rob Schremp in the high slot. Schremp then one-touched it to a wide-open a Knight, who beat Ullmark from the top of the crease despite the netminder's best efforts to making a diving save.
After a back and forth third period yielded another scoreless exchange between the two teams, the game remained tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, forcing the contest into overtime. Phil Varone had two quality scoring chances during the 3-on-3 session and Tim Schaller rang his attempt off the crossbar just seconds later. Rochester's persistence would pay off on the next shift, however, when O'Reilly skated into the left circle and spotted Akeson on the back post for the tap-in past Brittain.
The Amerks return to Syracuse for the second time in three weeks on Saturday, Feb. 20 as they continue their stretch of three games in three nights with a North Division showdown against the Crunch at the War Memorial Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on FOX Sports 1280 Rochester.
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