Monsters Sneak by Amerks in Overtime
(Rochester, NY) - The Rochester Americans and Lake Erie Monsters needed more than regulation time to open the first leg of their home-and-home series, but it was the Monsters prevailing just 1:59 into overtime as Zach Werenski's first professional goal lifted the visitors to a 4-3 win Saturday at The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks gain a point in the loss and fall to 33-35-3-1 on the season heading into Sunday's rematch with Lake Erie in Cleveland.
Rochester led 3-1 early in the second period, but Lake Erie overcame the deficit with a pair of goals from Daniel Zaar before Werenski completed the comeback less than two minutes into the bonus session to give the Monsters the win.
Eric O'Dell and Nick Baptiste both finished with a goal and an assist while newcomer Brendan Guhle notched two assists for the first multi-point outing of his young pro career. Justin Bailey rounded out the scoring with his 20th goal of the season, becoming the third different Amerk to reach the mark this season, while the game also featured the professional debut of Rochester native Stu Wilson, who joined the Amerks earlier in the week following the completion of his senior season at Yale University. Back from a recent call-up with the Buffalo Sabres, goaltender Nathan Lieuwen earned his first start since Mar. 13, stopping 29 of 33 shots he faced.
Trent Vogelhuber added the fourth goal for the Monsters behind a 28-save effort from Anton Forsberg.
A back-and-forth first period saw the teams trade goals within 2:39 of each other before the Amerks added another late in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Rochester opened the scoring just beyond the midway point of the first period when Baptiste looped a pass around the end boards that was collected by Guhle above the far left circle. Guhle, who recorded an assist in pro debut last night against Binghamton, timed his retrieval of the puck off the left half-wall perfectly and whipped a quick shot on goal that was redirected inside the right post by O'Dell for his team-leading 25th goal of the season and the 100th of his pro career.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Monsters fired back less than three minutes later to even the score at 1-1. After having his initial bid turned aside by Lieuwen, Vogelhuber gathered his own rebound at the foot of the crease, circled around the Rochester net and converted on an unlucky wrap-around that went up and over the Amerks netminder at 12:57.
Bailey's 20th goal of the season restored the lead for Rochester with 2:28 to play in the first. The play began with a slick keep-in at the blueline by Dupuy, who gloved down a clearing try before sending the puck low to Bailey in the right corner. Dupuy continued to the Lake Erie net, drawing the attention of the Monsters defensemen, while Bailey snuck toward the slot and lifted a back-hander under the crossbar for the go-ahead goal. He becomes the first Amerks rookie to reach the 20-goal mark since Drew Stafford scored 22 in just 34 games during the 2006-07 season.
Despite going 0-for-11 on the man-advantage in its last four games coming into tonight, Rochester needed just 1:29 into its first power-play opportunity to take a two-goal lead. O'Dell won a loose puck battle deep in the right corner and managed to get it to the point while absorbing a hard body check. Guhle carried to the high slot and boomed a slap-shot from just inside the blueline that caught the stick of Baptiste on its way past Forsberg. Guhle and O'Dell each picked up their second points of the night on the goal.
Lake Erie fought back once more and pulled even again, this time on the strength of back-to-back strikes from Zaar. The Monsters forward lifted a Sonny Milano rebound to the upper left corner and then added his second of the night less than six minutes later on the power-play with help from a Ryan Craig screen to make it a 3-3 game.
After a scoreless third period, the game went to overtime, where a clean face-off win by Michael Chaput set up the game-winner from Werenski.
The same two teams meet again for the second time in as many nights as the home-and-home series shifts to downtown Cleveland for a rematch at Quicken Loans Arena. The 5:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull.
RCH: O'Dell (25), Bailey (20), Baptiste (13)
LE: Vogelhuber (11), Zaar (20, 21), Werenski (1)
RCH: Lieuwen - L (29/33)
LE: Forsberg - W (28/31)
Amerks Power Play: 1-3
Amerks Penalty Kill: 3-4
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