LAVAL, Quebec (WROC) — Forwards Sean Malone and Michael Mersch both scored for the Rochester Americans (32-26-5-3) but could not overcome a four-goal third-period by the Laval Rocket (32-23-3-2), dropping a 6-2 decision in the first of a two-game series between the North Division rivals Wednesday at Place Bell.
Despite the regulation loss, Rochester has earned points in eight of its last 11 overall. Prior to tonight’s contest, the Amerks had won four straight in Laval while also boasting a 9-1-0-0 record in their previous 10 visits to Place Bell dating back to the start of 2017-18 season.
With his third goal in the last two games and 11th point (7+4) over his previous eight, Malone pushed his point-streak to a career-high eight games dating back to Dec. 18. The West Seneca native also established a new personal-best with his 31st point of the season. Merch, meanwhile, matched his career-high with his team-leading 24th goal of the season in the third period. With 48 points on the campaign, the Amerks captain is two points away from reaching the 50-point mark for the first time in his career.
Ryan MacInnis tallied a pair of assists for his sixth multi-point effort while Ethan Prow was credited with a helper on Malone’s 15th marker of the season.
Goaltender Aaron Dell (11-6-1) made his second straight appearance, but was dealt the loss despite making 30 saves. In 16 of his 19 appearances this season, Dell has faced 30 or more shots, including seven straight and nine of his last 10 appearances.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard produced a career-high four-point performance as he scored once to go with three assists. Former Amerk Jean-Sébastien Dea (1+2), Joël Teasdale (2+0) and Lukas Vejdemo (0+2) all chipped in a multi-point effort in the win for Laval, its third straight against the Amerks.
Cedric Paquette scored his sixth goal in seven games since joining the Rocket after staring the season with the Montreal Canadiens. Jean-Christophe Beaudin completed the scoring while goaltender Cayden Primeau upped his record to 14-10-3 on the year as he turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced.
Six minutes after the Amerks opened the scoring on Malone’s goal, Paquette evened the game at one just before the intermission break while on the power-play.
The goal, which erased an 0-for-15 stretch for the Rocket while on the man-advantage, seemed to ignite the offense as the club tallied the game’s next four goals to take 4-1 lead at the 9:11 mark of the third period.
Rochester was able to cut into the three-goal deficit as MacInnis and Mersch teamed up for a goal with eight minutes left in regulation, but the Rocket responded with a pair of goals, including Beaudin’s empty-netter, to take the 6-2 victory.
The Amerks scored the first goal of the game 8:58 into the contest as Malone received a pass from MacInnis atop the right circle before tucking a shot past the blocker of Primeau. Prow, who picked up the secondary assist on the marker, has recorded 23 points (5+18) over his last 30 games.
The Amerks continue their five-game road swing as they wrap up their two-game set against the Rocket on Friday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m. All the action from Place Bell will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.