The Rochester Americans (15-5-3-3) allowed an opening goal just 1:27 after the opening face-off to the Utica Comets (10-11-3-1) Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena, but responded with three unanswered goals to push their season-long point-streak to 10 straight games.
With the 3-1 win, the 10-game point streak is Rochester’s longest since the team tied a franchise record with 11 straight wins from Oct. 12 to Nov. 10 during the 2009-10 season. The Amerks have also notched points in 16 of their last 17 games and have only lost twice in regulation dating back to Nov. 1.
Rookie C.J. Smith notched his sixth multi-point (1+1) performance of the season as he scored his team-best ninth goal of the campaign and increased his point total to 27 on the year. Steve Moses and Stuart Percy completed the scoring for Rochester while goaltender Linus Ullmark improved to 12-3-3 on the slate. The Swedish netminder shows a 9-0-3 in his last 12 starts and hasn’t suffered a regulation loss since Oct. 28.
Second-year forward Michael Carcone tallied his third of season for the Comets as netminder Thatcher Demko, who entered the contest with a 3-0-1 record in his four starts against the Amerks in the head-to-head series, took the loss in the blue paint.
The Comets opened the scoring on the night just 87 seconds into the contest as Carcone jammed the puck behind Ullmark to give Utica an early 1-0 lead. The Amerks responded to even the game with 2:27 left in the opening period with Moses’ seventh goal of the season. Sahir Gill and Casey Nelson each were awarded the helpers on the tally.
“We knew we could back from the early deficit,” said Ullmark after allowing the Utica goal. “We have a good team and we know we are never really out of a game.”
As the two North Division rivals emerged from the intermission break, Percy fired a shot just under the cross-bar from the left face-off dot to give Rochester a 2-1 advantage with 13:10 left in the second period. Nick Baptiste and Smith picked up the assists on Percy’s third goal of the campaign.
The Amerks carried a 2-1 lead into the dressing room along with a 28-18 shot advantage after 40 minutes of play.
Rochester took its largest lead of the night 1:17 into the third period as Smith buried a rebound opportunity past the outstretched glove of Demko. The initial power-play shot came from Seth Griffith, who pushed his point-streak to six games with the primary assist. Zach Redmond also was credited with an assist and shows six points (3+3) over his last four games.
Despite the Amerks being whistled for a tripping penalty with just under four minutes to play and the Comets pulling Demko for a six-on-four advantage, Ullmark made timely saves to preserve the 3-1 win.
“Linus played really well for us tonight,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We had some timely goals and some big saves by Ullmark and those two things helped us get the win tonight.”
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will go head-to-head on Friday, Dec. 15 when the Amerks host the first-place Toronto Marlies in a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the first of eight scheduled meetings between the two teams this season.