The Rochester Americans (22-13-2-4) and Cleveland Monsters (18-20-2-2) 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, providing the eventual tying goal and an assist on the game-winner. Remi Elie (1+0) scored his second goal in the last two games, marking his fifth of the season. Pilut(1+0), who was playing his first game back 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, with Mittelstadt collecting the lone assist. 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.
Ryan MacInnis (1+1) notched his sixth goal of the season while tacking on an assist on the Monsters game-tying goal in the final frame. Marko Dano (1+0) netted his fourth that would force overtime. Veini Vehvilainen (9-11-4) got the loss in the contest, stopping 25 of the 28 shots on goal.
Rochester started off the contest on the right foot, ensuring an early lead right out of the gate.
After receiving a pass from Jean-Sebastian Dea, Elie carried the puck wide into the Cleveland zone along the right half-wall. He took a few strides before making a sharp cut at the near face-off dot before ripping a shot past Vehvilainen to put the Amerks on the board just 3:44 into the first stanza. Dea’s helper marked his team-leading 29th point on the season.
Later in that same frame, Mittelstadt knocked in his fifth marker on the year with an unassisted goal to increased Rochester’s lead by a pair.
In the second period, MacInnis scored an unassisted goal of his own to cut Cleveland’s deficit in half. With Brett Gallant serving the first half off a double-minor high-sticking infraction, the Monsters forward pounced on a loose puck just outside the Rochester blueline and sped off on a 2-on-1 rush. MacInnis got to the hash marks and unleashed a shot that glanced off the blocker of Johansson and in for his sixth goal of the season.
Cleveland’s game-tying goal came 6:27 into the third period thanks to Dano, whose wrap-around snuck through the legs of Johansson, sending the Amerks into their 12th overtime tilt of the year.
As the minutes began to dwindle down in the sudden death three-on-three action, Pilut’s late-game heroics would prevent the contest from going to the shootout. Upon entering the Cleveland zone, Pilut left a pass for Mittelstadt just inside the Monsters blueline. Mittelstadt made a quick return pass to Pilut, who after sneaking behind the Cleveland defense, flipped the game-winner over the outstretched leg of Vehvilainen from atop the crease to secure Rochester’s sixth overtime win of the season.
The Amerks return home to host the Laval Rocket on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena before closing out the weekend in Syracuse with a 7:00 p.m. face-off against the Crunch at Upstate Medical University Arena on Saturday, Jan. 25.