Makarov, Amerks Shutout Crunch in Syracuse
(Syracuse, NY)... Second-year goaltender Andrey Makarov stopped all 38 shots he faced for his first professional shutout and Joel Armia scored the eventual game-winner just 2:58 into the contest as the Rochester Americans continued their hot start to the season with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Syracuse Crunch Friday night at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The win improves the Amerks to 6-2-0-0 on the season and keeps them two points back of the Utica Comets for the top spot in the American Hockey League's North Division.
Jerome Leduc finished with a goal and an assist while Armia and Phil Varone each scored their fourth goals of the season in the win for Rochester. Jordan Samuels-Thomas registered his first professional point with an assist while Mark Pysyk, Mikhail Grigorenko, Luke Adam and Makarov all tallied assists.
Andrei Vasilevskiy posted 22 saves on 25 shots in the losing effort for the hometown Crunch.
Syracuse was awarded the game's first power-play opportunity just 1:02 after the opening face-off, but the Amerks would ultimately strike first with Armia cashing in on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity with four seconds remaining on the man-advantage. After Makarov made a series of big saves, including a few at point-blank range, Leduc was able to gain control and flipped the bouncing puck out of harm's way into the neutral zone. Armia, nearing the end of his shift, gathered it along the left wing boards, sped past Syracuse defenseman Jake Dotchin and flipped a shot over the glove of Vasilevskiy to give the Amerks an early 1-0 lead. Leduc and Makarov would both earn the assists on Armia's fourth goal of the season.
Rochester's special teams continued to be problematic for the hosts as the Amerks put the Crunch in a 2-0 hole with 58 seconds left in the frame, this time with a power-play goal from Leduc. Stationed at the top of the left circle, the third-year defenseman took a return pass from Pysyk and floated a shot through traffic that handcuffed a screened Vasilevskiy to send the Amerks into the first intermission up by a pair. Grigorenko also recorded an assist on the play, marking his fifth point over his last four games.
A scoreless second period nearly ended with the Crunch cutting the deficit in half as Luke Witkowski caught Makarov cheating to his left, but his opportunity from the low slot rang off the post before the Amerks were able to clear the zone in the closing seconds.
Varone gave the Amerks their largest lead of the night 7:42 into the final frame when the puck somehow ended up in the back of the net for his fourth of the season. An almost broken 3-on-2 oddman rush resulted in Varone regaining possession and his last-minute swat at the puck from just off the right post skipped up in the air and over the left shoulder of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.
Syracuse had its best scoring chance of the game at 8:43 of the third period, when Tanner Richard thought he had Makarov beat to the upper right corner. Makarov, however, was much faster than Richard, flashing his glove at the last second to snare it out of the air and protect his shutout bid.
The Amerks play the second of their three-game road swing on Saturday, Nov. 1 as they make their way north of the border for an afternoon matchup against the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. The 5:00 p.m. matinee will be the second of 10 meetings between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1280 Rochester.
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