Rochester Americans Game Preview: Friday, November 29, 2019 vs. Toronto Marlies
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The top two teams in the American Hockey League's North Division square off in Rochester tonight as the Amerks (12-3-1-2) and Toronto Marlies (13-2-2-1) open their season series at The Blue Cross Arena. The matchup will be the first meeting between the two teams since the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs this past spring. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- With three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes of regulation, the Amerks doubled up the Binghamton Devils Saturday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena by a 4-2 score. With the win, the Amerks extended their win streak to five games and pushed their current point streak to eight straight games (7-0-0-1) to begin the month of November.
- Additionally, Rochester has now earned 27 out of a possible 36 points through its first 18 games of the campaign and has picked up points in 13 of the last 15 contests overall, going 10-2-1-2 over that span.
- Forward Kevin Porter opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season and 400th professional point while Tyler Randell, Eric Cornel and Andrew Oglevie also found the back of the net for Rochester. Goaltender Jonas Johansson (5-2-2) made 34 saves, which included 19 in the final 20 minutes of play, to earn his third straight win and fifth overall.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- The Amerks bring the month to a close on Saturday, Nov. 30 when they make their first trip of the season to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for a North Division showdown against the Cleveland Monsters. The matchup will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams with each side having earned a win beyond regulation, the most recent of which came on Nov. 15 in Rochester. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
WELCOME BACK, CHRIS TAYLOR
- Chris Taylor resumed head coaching duties of the Amerks earlier this week, making his official return to Rochester after spending the previous two months assisting the Buffalo Sabres coaching staff. Taylor filled in for Sabres assistant coach Don Granato, who was forced to take an extended medical leave while he recovered from illness. Amerks assistant coach Gord Dineen took over in the interim, leading the Amerks to a 12-3-1-2 record, including the team's current five-game win streak. Taylor's last game behind Rochester's bench was Game 3 in Toronto during the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- With Jean-Sebastien Dea and Tage Thompson both on recall with the Sabres, the Amerks come into the weekend without the services of their top two point-getters. With six points (3+3) over his last six games, Dea, who made his Sabres debut Wednesday against Calgary, leads the Amerks with seven goals and 13 points through 18 games. He's also third on the team with six assists. Thompson has totaled 23 points (14+9) over his last 27 games with the Amerks dating back to last season, including the two goals he scored in the first round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs against the Marlies. More impressively, Thompson has scored 12 goals in just 24 career regular-season games for Rochester, easily surpassing the total he set as a rookie with the San Antonio Rampage in 2017-18. His 67 shots are seventh in the AHL.
- With six assists and a pair of multi-point efforts over his last five games, first-year forward Brett Murray is tied for 14th in scoring among all AHL rookies with 11 points (2+9) in 13 games.
- Andrew Hammond is tied for seventh among all netminders with seven wins on the season. In his last five starts, he has posted four straight wins, two shutouts, a 1.25 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage. His counterpart, Jonas Johansson, also boasts a three-game win streak and recently set a new AHL career-high with his fifth win of the season this past Saturday in Binghamton.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
- The Amerks come into the weekend owning 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 start of the 2019-20 season is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who's averaged nearly a point-per-game through his first 13 games of the season. The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner and two-time AHL All-Star is currently tied for 12th in scoring among all defensemen with 12 points and ranks eighth with a team-high 10 assists. Nelson's three goals this season are tied for 14th-most by a defenseman while his team-best plus-12 on-ice rating is third in the league among all active blueliners.
- After being reassigned by the Sabres last Saturday, defenseman John Gilmour made an immediate impact on the scoresheet in his Amerks debut, earning the secondary assist on Eric Cornel's game-winning goal during the second period. With the addition of Gilmour, who last season led the Harford Wolf Pack with a career-high 34 assists and 54 points in 70 games, the Amerks now have two of the AHL's top three point-producing defensemen from last season on the same blueline. Gilmour's 54 points were four better than Redmond's while Redmond led all AHL blueliners with a franchise-record 21 goals.
SCOUTING THE MARLIES
- Toronto enters tonight's contest with a 13-2-2-1 record and sit just two points ahead of the Amerks for the top spot in the AHL's North Division standings. They lead the Eastern Conference with 69 goals.
- The Marlies are unbeaten on home ice to start the season, showing a perfect 9-0-0-0 while outscoring the opposition 38-20.
- Toronto returns to Rochester fueled by sixth-year pro Pontus Aberg, who leads the Marlies with 19 points (9+10) while appearing in all 18 games so far this seasaon. With seven points (2+5) over his last six appearances, he's currently tied for 13th in scoring among the AHL's top point-getters.
- Kenny Agostino leads the team with 10 goals and Jeremy Bracco, who won the Calder Cup with Toronto in 2018 and was named a First Team AHL All-Star last season, has a team-high 13 assists in 18 games.
- In 14 of the last 18 meetings dating back to the 2016-17 season, the team that scored first has gone on to come away with the victory.
- The two teams have combined to go just 13-for-87 in the previous 14 games while on the power-play. Conversely, the Amerks' penalty kill has successfully killed off 43 of the 48 penalties against the Marlies dating back to last season.
- After dropping three straight games against the Marlies, the Amerks have come away with the victory in eight of the last nine meetings in the head-to-head series, while outscoring Toronto 43-27 over that span.
- In each of the six meetings last season the winning team has scored five goals.
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