Wedgewood, Amerks Shutout Comets for 4-0 Win
(Rochester, NY) ... With three more assists from Lawrence Pilut and a 20-save shutout from goaltender Scott Wedgewood, the Rochester Americans (6-2-1-0) blanked the Utica Comets (4-6-0-0) Friday night 4-0 at The Blue Cross Arena to extend their point streak to seven straight games.
With the victory, the Amerks have collected at least one point in each of the last 10 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign as they carry a 5-0-2-3 during that span. The Amerks have also collected 13 out of a possible 14 points over their last seven games overall.
Additionally, Rochester increased its North Division lead over the Cleveland Monsters to three points as the team's 13 points are tied for second-most in the American Hockey League.
Pilut, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup and posted his second straight three-point performance against the Comets in consecutive games. His first came just over a week ago in Rochester's 6-1 win at Utica back on Oct. 17. Zach Redmond and Danny O'Regan each tallied their team-leading fifth goals of the season for Rochester. Kevin Porter and Alexander Nylander rounded out the Amerks scoring with their second and fourth markers of the slate, respectively. Wedgewood stopped all 20 shots he faced to book the ninth shutout of his career and first as an Amerk while improving to 4-2-0 on the season in what was his fourth straight win in the blue paint.
Tanner Kero registered three shots to lead all Comet skaters while goaltender Richard Bachman made 20 saves in the losing effort. The netminder now shows a season record of 1-4-0 in five appearances.
Similar to their last meeting against the Comets earlier this month, the Amerks drew the game's first three penalties of the night and capitalized on the moment.
After clinging a shot off the cross-bar earlier in the power-play shift, Redmond lit the lamp for the fifth time on the year at the 10:40 mark of the opening period on a one-timer from the left circle. Victor Olofsson, the AHL's leading point-getter, pushed his point streak to seven games (5+9) while Pilut, who also extended his own streak to seven, were awarded the helpers on the power-play goal.
"I had a lot of luck tonight," admitted Pilut. "Sometimes the puck bounces a certain way and it certainly seemed that way tonight."
All five of Redmond's tallies on the season have been on the man-advantage while he has tallied 13 points (5+8) during his career-long eight-game point streak, the lonest of any blueliner this season.
The Amerks took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission before Porter doubled the Amerks lead 3:40 into the second frame as he slipped the puck into the net for his second of the season. The Amerks captain tracked down a loose puck to the right of Bachman, successfully drew the netminder out of his crease and shoveled it in to the empty net with Utica defenders giving chase.
The two clubs traded chances over the remaining 16:20 of play, but the Amerks went into the third period ahead 2-0 after Rochester successfully killed a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds midway through the stanza.
The Comets were unable gain any momentum as they were held without a shot on Wedgewood as forward Kyle Criscuolo and defensemen Will Borgen and Andrew MacWilliam blocked a handful of shots.
"The guys did a fantastic job during that sequence," said Wedgewood. "Utica ran two guys down low, which is tough on me, but our 'D' were aggressive and Criscuolo played tough on top and even blocked a shot. Him blocking the shot was a big sacrifice and it showed the type of teammate he is that he cares more about the team than his own health."
"It was a big boost for us tonight," said Redmond. "The past five or six games we have struggled on the penalty kill. To kill those two penalties and hear the crowd, it got us going at that point of the game."
Rochester tallied two more goals to maintain its season average of four goals per game as O'Regan and Nylander each found the back of the net 4:03 apart to put the game out of reach.
"I felt very comfortable tonight," said Wedgewood. "Over the last couple of seasons, I have not been able to play much hockey, but the more and more games I play, the better I feel."
With the Redmond's power-play goal during the first period, it was the club's league-leading 13th goal on the man-advantage.
The Amerks were able to successfully kill all five of their penalties, including two 5-on-3 infractions for a combined 53 seconds.
"Our penalty kill was big tonight," said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "It was a big difference tonight as we got in penalty trouble but our guys did a great job on it."
The Amerks get right back to work on Saturday, Oct. 27 when they host the Laval Rocket at The Blue Cross Arena to bring the month of October to a close. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester. The contest can also be viewed on AHLTV.
ROC: Redmond (5), Porter (2), O'Regan (5), Nylander (4)
ROC: Wedgewood - 20/20 (W)
UTI: Bachman - 20/24 (L)
ROC: PP (1/4) | PK (5/5)
UTI: PP (0/5) | PK (3/4)
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