After scoring three goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation to overcome a 4-1 deficit and force overtime in Sunday’s rematch at Coca-Cola Coliseum, Danny O’Regan delivered the game-winner just 17 seconds into the extra period to cap a thrilling 5-4 come-from-behind win for the Rochester Americans (41-21-3-2) over the Toronto Marlies (35-22-7-4).
The victory, which gave Rochester a perfect 3-0-0-0 record in the three games against the Marlies in Toronto this season, moved the Amerks to within three points of the Syracuse Crunch for the AHL’s North Division lead. The team has also earned 41 out of a possible 60 points in its last 30 games following the weekend sweep of the defending Calder Cup champion Marlies.
The line trio of O’Regan, Rasmus Asplund and Victor Olofsson combined for 10 of the Amerks’ 14 points on the night to give Rochester its fifth win of the season against the Marlies. As Olofsson added a career-high four assists, Asplund recorded his second two-goal night to go with a helper while O’Regan posted his first three-point effort (1+2) of the season. C.J. Smith and Kyle Criscuolo rounded out the scoring while Adam Wilcox (11-8-3) was awarded the win as he stopped all seven shots he faced after replacing Scott Wedgewood (26-12-2) just 38 seconds into the third period.
Jeremy Bracco, Scott Pooley, Dmytro Timashov and Pierre Engvall all scored for Toronto, which remains six points behind the Amerks for third place in the AHL’s North Division. Fourth-year netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo made 34 saves on the night but was handed the overtime loss.
After seeing the Marlies score three times in the second period, the Amerks responded with three straight goals of their own in the third to force overtime.
The scoring in final frame started with Smith’s bank shot off the back of Kaskisuo at the 6:07 mark before Asplund tallied his second of the night seven minutes later to bring Rochester within one.
With Rochester trailing 4-3 inside the final minute of regulation and Wilcox on the bench for the extra attacker, Amerks head coach Chris Taylor used his only timeout as a face-off was to the right of the Marlies zone.
The Amerks won the draw and the puck made its way over to Olofsson atop the left point and he fired it towards the cage. Before the shot could reach Kaskisuo, Criscuolo reached out his stick and deflected it into the net to tie the game at 4-4, which set-up the overtime period.
Rochester rode the momentum and began the three-on-three extra session with the line of O’Regan, Asplund and Olofsson. O’Regan won the draw back to Olofsson, who circled inside his own blueline before exchanging passes with Asplund. The puck eventually made its way back to O’Regan, who darted into the Toronto zone before flipping a shot overtop the glove of the Marlies goaltender to complete the 5-4 comeback win for Rochester.
The five-goal game by the Amerks marked the sixth time in the head-to-head matchup this season that the winning team had scored five goals, which includes Rochester outscoring the Marlies 15-7 north of the border.
Shortly after killing off a slashing penalty, the Amerks opened the scoring as Asplund fired in a cross-ice one-time feed from Olofsson with 7:04 left in the first period.
The Marlies, who trailed in shots 15-6 and 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes of play, emerged from the locker room and tested Wedgewood often in the first half of the middle period to grab a quick 2-1 lead just 5:33 in. Toronto added another later in the period with 7:17 left in the stanza as Engvall patiently drifted to his left before firing his 18th goal of the season by going across the grain to give Toronto a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of regulation.
Despite seeing the Marlies extend their lead 38 seconds into the third period and end Wedgewood’s night, the Amerks scored three straight goals over the final 13:53 of regulation, setting the stage for O’Regan’s dramatic game-winner 17 seconds into overtime.
The Amerks return to action for the final week of March with three games in four nights beginning on Wednesday, March 27 as they welcome the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to The Blue Cross Arena for the only time this season. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season