Rochester Americans Game Preview: Friday, January 24, 2020 vs. Laval Rocket
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The Rochester Americans (22-13-2-4) return home following a three-game road swing tonight as they host the North Division rival Laval Rocket (22-17-3-1) at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester took the first two meetings back on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 by a combined score of 8-2. Tonight's 7:05 p.m. matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- The Amerks and Cleveland Monsters each traded a pair of goals in regulation before Lawrence Pilut delivered the game-winner with 1:36 remaining in overtime as the Amerks snapped out of a seven-game skid with a 3-2 win over the Monsters Wednesday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
- The matchup was the second meeting in less than a week between the North Division rivals and the fourth of fifth meetings this season decided beyond regulation. Rochester has now won three of the last four.
- Casey Mittelstadt (1+1) led the scoring for Rochester with goal and an assist while Remi Elie scored his second goal in the last two games for his fifth of the season. Pilut, who was playing his first game with the Amerks following a brief six-game stint with the parent Buffalo Sabres, notched the game-winner with just 96 seconds to spare in overtime action. AHL All-Star Jonas Johansson (12-3-3) made the start in the net for Rochester, stopping 23 of the 25 shots that he faced in net to improve to 10-1-1 in his last 12 appearances.
- The win put Rochester within four points of first place in the AHL's North Division standings coming into this weekend's slate of games.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- The Amerks close out the weekend on Saturday, Jan. 25 in Syracuse against the Crunch from Upstate Medical University Arena The 7:00 p.m. contest will serve as the front-end of a home-and-home series between the two teams that concludes after the annual AHL All-Star break. The game will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
AMERKS GET TRIO FROM BUFFALO
- The Buffalo Sabres reassigned forwards Rasmus Asplund and Scott Wilson as well as defenseman Lawrence Pilut to the Amerks on Sunday. Asplund returned to Rochester after spending nearly three months during his first-career recall with the Sabres. The Swedish forward posted three points (1+2) in 28 contests since making his NHL debut for Buffalo back on Nov. 16 against Ottawa. He recorded his first NHL point on Jimmy Vesey's second-period goal against Calgary on Nov. 27 and scored his first NHL goal at the 19:01 mark of Buffalo's 7-1 rout over New Jersey on Dec. 2.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- Jean-Sebastien Dea continues to lead the team in both goals (12) and points (29) in 39 games this season. Coming into weekend, Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 74 shots on goal, has 11 points (2+9) in his last 14 games dating back to Dec. 20.
SHARING THE CREASE
- Anchored by the goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL, having allowed only 110 goals through the first 41 games of the season, tied for third-fewest in the AHL coming into this weekend. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and continue to rank among the AHL's goaltending leaders with 10 and 12 wins on the season, respectively.
- Hammond (10-9-2) ranks second among all netminders after notching his fourth shutout of the season back on Dec. 14 in a 5-0 win over Laval, a new career-high. With four shutouts through 23 games this season, he's on pace to match the franchise record for most shutouts in a season (8) set by Ryan Miller during the 2004-05 campaign.
- Having won 10 of his last 12 appearances, Johansson shows an AHL career-best 12-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. He has the fifth-best goal-against average in the league (2.21) and ranks sixth among all netminders with a .924 save percentage in 19 games. Dating back to Nov. 13, the third-year netminder boasts an impressive 10-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in seven starts over that span.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
- Rochester owns three of the AHL's top point-producing defensemen in Zach Redmond, Casey Nelson and Lawrence Pilut, all of whom have been mainstays on Rochester's blueline this season.
- The 2019-20 season is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who hasn't gone more than five games without a point all season. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is presently tied for eighth in scoring among all defensemen with 25 points and tied for ninth with a team-high 20 assists. He's also tied for 20th for goals by a defenseman with five through 38 games this season.
- Back from his second recall of the season with Buffalo, Pilut has 17 points (5+12) over his last 22 games dating back to Nov. 15, including goals in four of his last eight outings. Having already established a new AHL career-high in goals (6), the former SHL Defenseman of the Year is also on pace to set a new career-high in points.
- Nelson is tied for 11th among all active blueliners with a team-best plus-14 on-ice rating through 37 games while rookie Jacob Bryson is 18th in the AHL for all first-year players with a plus-6 on-ice rating.
- Rochester enters tonight with an 11-3-0 all-time record against Laval and winners in seven of the last eight games dating back to the 2017-18 campaign.
- The Rocket have used three different goaltenders this season with rookie Cayden Primeau handling much of the workload in the blue paint. The first-year netminder shows a record of 12-6-1 in 21 games while the other two goaltenders show a combined record of 10-11-3 in 25 appearances.
- Cayden Primeau is the nephew of former Amerk Wayne Primeau, who was a member of the 1996 Calder Cup-winning team. Cayden is also cousin of current Rochester forward Dalton Smith.
- Laval's roster includes former two-time team MVP and Rookie of the Year Phil Varone, who spent parts of his first five seasons (2011-16) in Rochester. He appeared in 306 career games with the Amerks and is tied for 19th all-time with 156 assists.
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