The Rochester Americans rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits, but a late goal by Sam Carrick with 5:38 remaining in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the visiting Toronto Marlies to 4-2 win over the Amerks Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
The loss stretches Rochester’s winless streak to a season-long nine games and keeps the Amerks just one point behind the Charlotte Checkers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference.
Joel Armia and Brayden Irwin scored goals for the Amerks, with Blake Kessel adding an assist for his first point in a Rochester uniform. Rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov received his third consecutive start in net and made 27 saves in the loss.
Carter Ashton, Brad Staubitz, Carrick and Trevor Smith all scored goals for the North Division-leading Marlies, and former Amerks netminder Drew MacIntyre earned his 26th win of the season in net.
Makarov, who has been steady so far in limited action for the Amerks, had a strong opening period that included a highlight-reel save on Jamie Devane when the Toronto forward grabbed a rebound and nearly opened the scoring. Makarov had other plans, though, as the netminder dove across the crease to deny the opportunity.
Phil Varone was assessed a four-minute minor penalty for high-sticking, and after the Amerks kept Toronto’s power-play at bay for nearly the entire man-advantage, the Marlies broke through on their first goal with four seconds remaining with the extra man. The play was an unfortunate one for the Amerks, as an outside shot from the side-boards appeared to deflect off of a Rochester defenseman and in.
The Amerks tied the score just minutes into the second period on a strong individual effort from Armia. Moments after a Toronto penalty expired, Armia drove from the corner to the front of the net, and toe-dragged around a Toronto defenseman before flipping a back-hand on net. After MacIntyre made the initial save, Armia collected his own rebound and chipped it over MacIntyre’s shoulder for his seventh goal of the season.
Toronto would regain the lead just 6:46 later, however, after a point shot from Andrew MacWilliam bounced around in front of the net before Staubitz jammed the puck off of the post and in.
Rochester tied the score 2-2 less than a minute into the third period on Irwin’s third goal of the season. Kessel, who was playing in just his seventh game with the Amerks, took a shot from the blueline that was redirected by Luke Adam in the slot. Adam’s attempt hit the left post, but Irwin crashed the net and put it in before sprawling over MacIntyre.
With 5:38 remaining in regulation, Carrick received a pass from across the ice and shot through a screen and into the net to give the Marlies a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. The Amerks had some chances to even the score in the final minutes, and when Carrick took a penalty with 42 seconds left, Rochester pulled Makarov for a 6-on-4 advantage. Unfortunately for the Amerks, Kevin Porter broke his stick on an attempted shot and the puck hopped right to Smith, who sealed the game into the empty net from his own zone for the 4-2 win.
The Amerks kickoff the final month of the regular season on Wednesday, April 2 when they host the defending Eastern Conference champion Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the seventh of eight meetings between the intrastate rivals this season.