Amerks Earn Point in 2-1 Shootout Loss to Crunch
(Rochester, NY) ... Despite the Rochester Americans (28-13-3-2) scoring the first goal of Wednesday night's contest and extending their point streak to tie a season-long nine straight games, the Syracuse Crunch (28-13-2-1) stole the extra point as they came back for a 2-1 shootout win at The Blue Cross Arena.
While the Amerks fell in the skills competition, they have collected 15 out of a possible 17 points during their current nine-game point streak, going 6-0-1-2 over that span, and maintain their first-place lead atop the AHL's North Division standings. The team has also notched 23 points in its last 16 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26.
Forward Taylor Leier tallied his second goal with the Amerks and 12th overall of the season in the defeat while goaltender Scott Wedgewood (16-7-2), who missed the last four games due to injury, stopped 31 of 32 but was handed the shootout loss. Over his last 12 games, Wedgewood shows a record of 8-3-1 going back to the game after Christmas.
The Crunch, who built a seven-game winning streak with the win, were paced by Cory Conacher's 16th goal of the season as well as his shootout marker while Alexander Volkov also found the back of the net in the skills competition. Netminder Connor Ingram extended his winning streak to five games as he made 17 saves.
Facing a one-goal deficit after 40 minutes of play, the Crunch emerged from the intermission break and tied the game at 1-1 near the midway point of the stanza while outshooting Rochester 10-1 during the period.
While hemming the Amerks inside their own zone for the first 7:30 of the frame, Conacher spotted a loose rebound to the right of Wedgewood and forced overtime as the game was tied at 1-1.
"I liked our penalty kill, as they were really good, but I did not like our third period at all," said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "Syracuse came out with a lot of energy and we just didn't match it. I thought Wedgewood made some big saves to get us a point, but it was not enough tonight."
While Rochester drew its only power-play of the night with 1:50 left in the extra period, the two teams went to the shootout as the Amerks were unable to convert on the man-advantage.
The Amerks elected to shoot first in the skills competition, but both Victor Olofsson and Leier were stopped by Ingram. Conacher and Volkov beat Wedgewood to give the Crunch the extra point.
"I thought we played well the first two periods," said Amerks captain Kevin Porter. "For whatever reason, we came in the third and just were flat. Syracuse came out and dominated, and then we couldn't get anything going in overtime period on the power-play."
"It's unacceptable, and it starts with the older guys, myself included, and the leadership group, and we have to be better," added Porter.
Prior to a scoreless second period and after successfully killing off the first penalty of the night, Leier and Porter stole the puck off a Crunch skater and exchanged a give-and-go to exit the Amerks zone. As Porter entered the Syracuse zone with the puck, he left it atop the right face-off dot and drove towards the net. Leier scooped up the puck and used Porter as a screen to give the home squad a 1-0 lead at the 13:14 mark of the first period.
For the ninth straight game, the Amerks penalty kill did not surrender a power-play goal, which included a full five-minute major and a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:28. Since the turn of the New Year, Rochester's shorthanded unit has successfully killed 36 of 38 penalties in the last 13 games.
"The penalty kill was huge tonight, but we just couldn't get much going, especially in the third period," said Wedgewood. "The guys on the shorthanded unit kept them off the scoresheet but I have to make a save during the third period."
The Amerks close out their brief two-game homestand on Friday, Feb. 8 as they welcome the Springfield Thunderbirds to The Blue Cross Arena. The club will induct Doug Janik and Steve Langdon into the Amerks Hall of Fame prior to the 7:05 p.m. matchup, in addition to wearing special throwback jerseys and matching socks. All the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Leier (12)
SYR: Conacher (16, SO GWG)
ROC: Wedgewood - 31/32 (SOL)
SYR: Ingram - 17/18 (W)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (5/5)
SYR: PP (0/5) | PK (1/1)
1: Cory Conacher ()
2. Scott Wedgewood ()
3. Connor Ingram ()
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