(Rochester, NY) … Just two days after earning a 4-0 win over the Toronto Marlies, the Rochester Americans (15-3-2-2) duplicated the effort in shutting out the defending Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers (9-11-3-0) by the same score Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
The only difference was goaltender Jonas Johansson, who was perfect in stopping all 26 shots he faced to earn his first AHL shutout while also collecting his 100th pro win. The 4-0 win served as the first of back-to-back to meetings between the two clubs and also helped Rochester take over the top spot in the AHL’s North Division standings.
The victory also pushed Rochester’s point streak to 12 straight games (10-0-1-1), their longest since a 14-game run from Jan. 16 to Feb. 11 during the 2004-05 campaign. Additionally, the Amerks have now picked up points in 17 of the last 19 contests overall, going 13-2-2-2 over that span, while also earning 34 out of a possible 44 points through their first 22 contests of the season.
Dalton Smith notched his first AHL multi-point game since Nov. 14, 2014 as a member of the Syracuse Crunch and first as an Amerk while Zach Redmond produced his third two-assist outing of the season. Forwards Sean Malone, Kevin Porter, Brady Vail and Eric Cornel all lit the lamp as Johansson improved to 7-2-2 on the season as he made 26 all saves. With Andrew Hammond earning a shutout on Wednesday and Johansson tonight, it marks the first time the Amerks posted back-to-back shutout wins since March 24 and March 27 during the 2012-13 season.
Winger Steven Lorentz registered a team-high four shots for Charlotte, which suffered its second shutout in the last three games. Netminder Alex Nedeljkovic (4-7-1) stopped 27 shots of 31 in the defeat.
After overcoming a two-man disadvantage midway through the opening frame following consecutive tripping penalties, Smith dug the puck out from behind the Charlotte goaltender. His initial shot was denied, but the rebound caromed right to Malone and the Buffalo native banged it in for his fifth of the campaign with 2:15 left in the period.
“Killing the 5-on-3 was a big momentum swing,” said Redmond. “Getting the goal by Sean (Malone) that we maybe didn’t necessarily deserve as it was our first real chance, it gave us something to build off.”
“Charlotte came out flying,” Porter explained. “They are a good team and they were ready. JJ kept us in the game as we kind of weathered the storm a little bit, and then after the goal we rode that energy into the second period.”
During the middle stanza, it appeared the Amerks were going to take the 1-0 lead into the intermission but three goals in a span of 2:53, including two in 60 seconds, gave them a four-goal cushion going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“Getting the secondary scoring again from our team is huge,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said. “You need a team with depth, and much like it has been all season, it was good again.”
The scoring fiery began at the 15:23 mark as Porter steered in his sixth of the season from Andrew Oglevie and Redmond before Vail and Cornel both redirected shots in-behind Nedeljkovic less than a minute apart.
Charlotte continued to pressure Johansson in an attempt to spoil his shutout bid, but thanks to timely saves much like he did in the first two periods, the Swedish netminder stonewalled the Checkers.
“It’s big for me,” said Johansson. “Of course, the thought (of the shutout) goes through your head, but the guys really helped me out a bunch, especially in the third. It was a reminder to keep the puck out of the net. I am happy to get the two points and the win, but the shutout feels good.”
“JJ played awesome tonight,” said Taylor. “If it was not for his effort, I don’t know if I would be standing here talking about a win. He worked very hard over the summer and is being rewarded for his effort that he is doing after practices, too.”
After a quick turnaround, the same two teams are right back at it again for another go-around on Saturday, Dec. 7 at The Blue Cross Arena.