Amerks Unable to Halt Slide in 7-1 Loss to Comets
(Utica, NY) ... The Rochester Americans (8-12-2-1) struggled to generate any offensive firepower in a 7-1 loss to the intrastate rival Utica Comets (12-7-0-1) Friday at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The matchup was the seventh meeting between the two teams this season with the Amerks earning at least one point in four of the last seven games. Rochester has collected at least one point in 23 of the last 34 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, going 17-11-2-4.
The Comets have been dominant within the confines of the Adirondack Bank Center this season, going 8-1-0-0 on home ice with half of those home wins coming against Rochester.
Forward Brett Murray (1+0) provided the Amerks lone tally of the night, which marked his eighth point over the last 10 games. Rookie Matej Pekar (0+1) has found his groove over the last five games, adding his fourth assist in that span. Since coming to the Amerks on loan from the Vegas Golden Knights just last week, defenseman Nick DeSimone (0+1) found himself on the scoresheet once again with his third assist in Rochester and eighth of the season overall.
In his fifth start of the season, rookie goaltender Stefanos Lekkas (0-5-1) got the loss while making 33 saves in his sixth appearance.
Utica forward Dakota Joshua (1+0) lit the lamp to get the scoring started, while forwards Lukas Jasek (1+1), Nikita Alexandrov (1+1), Curtis McKenzie (1+1), Carson Focht (1+0), Jonah Gadjovich (1+1) and Josh Wesley (0+2) all had multi-point efforts to help lift Utica to the win. Forward Will Lockwood (1+0) added his fourth goal of the year as forwards Nolan Stevens (0+1) and Sam Anas (0+1) and defensemen Josh Teves (0+1), Jett Woo (0+1) and Guillaume Brisebois (0+1) all added assists.
In his first start since March 11, 2020, goaltender Michael DiPietro (1-0-0) picked up his first win of the 2020-21 campaign, stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced in net.
Coming out of the first intermission with the Comets in front 3-1, it took less than four minutes for Utica to take a commanding five-goal lead early in the middle frame.
Alexandrov ignited the four-goal run just 2:04 into the period before McKenzie and Gadjovich decided to join the charge just 1:26 and 3:58 after the initial marker, respectively. For Gadjovich, it was his eighth goal of the season in as many games against Rochester.
Utica's second-period scoring frenzy didn't stop there, however, and with 5:45 remaining, Focht capitalized on the Comets' fifth power-play opportunity of the night to up the score 7-1 before the period's end.
Both teams held each other off in the final frame, combining for 21 shots and a slew of penalty minutes with Lekkas and DiPietro ending the contest with an unblemished final frame.
Utica set the tone early, scoring just 3:03 into the contest with Joshua finding his second of the season. As Joshua made a play in his own zone, he chipped the puck past the Amerks defenders and brought it back in front of the net to send it past Lekkas and make it a 1-0 game. It was Joshua's first game back with the Comets since Feb. 18 after being on loan with the St. Louis taxi squad since Feb. 20.
Later in the opening period, Rochester's first scoring chance came by way of a breakaway opportunity from Brent Gates, Jr. at the 6:37 mark that resulted in a failed penalty shot attempt, the team's first on the road since Oct. 13, 2019.
The Amerks did eventually breakthrough, however, as Murray converted a rebound with 6:19 to go in the first before Utica took a two-goal lead.
After accepting a pass from the corner, DeSimone was positioned at the right point with Pekar waiting within the left face-off dot. As Pekar received DeSimone's pass, the rookie forward quickly spun and fired a shot through traffic that was blocked away by DiPietro. Murray won the race to the loose puck and quickly deposited the rebound over the outstretched leg of the Utica netminder for his eighth of the season and a 1-1 score.
Utica quickly regained the lead just 14 seconds later thanks to an off-speed shot by Jasek. Making his way up the right Wing, Jasek tapped in a slow shot that went between the legs of Lekkas for his third of the season.
With 45 seconds to go, Utica added another for a two-goal cushion heading into the first intermission. After Lockwood received a little slip pass up the left wing from Gadjovich, he took the puck to the net and tucked it past Lekkas to make the score 3-1.
The Comets tacked on four more unanswered goals in the second period and cruised to the 7-1 win.
The Amerks close out the weekend as well as a wrap up a three-game road swing on Saturday, May 1 at Upstate Medical University Arena as they face-off with the Syracuse Crunch for the 11th meeting between the two teams this season. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: B. Murray (8)
UTI: D. Joshua (2), L. Jasek (3 - GWG), W. Lockwood (4), N. Alexandrov (1), C. McKenzie (4), J. Gadjovich (15), C. Focht (3)
ROC: S. Lekkas - 33/40 (L)
UTI: M. DiPietro - 20/21 (W)
ROC: PP (0/4) | PK (5/7)
UTI: PP (2/7) | PK (4/4)
1. N. Alexandrov (UTI)
2. J. Gadjovich (UTI)
3. M. DiPietro (UTI)
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