The Rochester Americans, led by goaltender Matt Hackett and rookie Zemgus Girgensons, defeated the Albany Devils 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday afternoon at the Times Union Center. Trailing 2-0, the Amerks scored twice in the third period to force overtime before ultimately winning in the shootout. With the win, the Amerks improved to 39-27-3-1 on the season and 9-1 in shootouts.
Hackett, who was acquired on Wednesday from Minnesota in a deal that also netted forward Johan Larsson, got his first start as a member of the Amerks and earned first star honors in the win. After turning aside 30 shots in regulation and nine more in overtime, Hackett stopped all three Albany attempts in the shootout to secure his first victory as an Amerk. Girgensons, meanwhile, assisted on Nick Crawford's third period power-play goal, then scored a shorthanded tally to force overtime. In the shootout, all three Rochester shooters found the back of the net.
Reid Boucher and Jean-Sebastien Berube each scored for Albany while goaltender Keith Kinkaid finished with 20 saves in the loss.
After a scoreless opening period that saw Hackett stop all 13 shots he faced, Albany finally broke through late in the second frame. The Devils broke into the Rochester zone on a three-on-two rush with Joe Whitney carrying the puck. Instead of passing to the player driving the net, Whitney opted to make a cross-ice pass to Boucher, who fired a one-timer from the right face-off circle into the back of the net to give Albany a 1-0 lead at 17:02 of the period. Steve Zalewski also picked up an assist on the goal.
Early in the third period, Albany struck again to take a 2-0 lead. Darcy Zajac dumped the puck into the Rochester zone and Berube was able to catch up to it first. He gathered in the puck below the right face-off circle and, with virtually no angle, managed to chip the puck over the right shoulder of Hackett and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the season. Zajac and Cam Janssen were awarded the assists.
A power-play goal from Crawford would get the Amerks on the board minutes later. After Girgensons worked hard to dig the puck out of the corner and get it to Evan Rankin, Rankin passed it to the point where Crawford wound up and fired a shot through traffic and past Kinkaid for his fifth goal of the season to cut the deficit in half.
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Girgensons scored a huge shorthanded goal to tie the game and force overtime. After Alex Biega poked the puck past a Devils defenseman and into the neutral zone, Girgensons gained control and rushed up the left wing boards on a 2-on-1. Girgensons showed great patience, walking in on Kinkaid before snapping a shot past the goaltender's glove to net the equalizer.
After a scoreless overtime period that featured nine saves by Hackett, the Amerks went to a shootout for the second straight game. All three Amerks shooters - Larsson, Corey Tropp and Colin Jacobs - scored on their chances while Hackett stopped all three Albany shooters to secure the victory.
The Amerks return home on Friday, April 12 to host the Oklahoma City Barons in a Western Conference showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. The game is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start.
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