The Rochester Americans (7-5-0-0) held the first-place Utica Comets (11-0-0-0) to a season-low 12 shots on goal, but a fortuitous bounce ended up being the difference for the Comets, who came away with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite the loss, the Amerks have won seven of their last 11 games, which includes three on home ice. Dating back to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Rochester has collected at least one point in 30 of the last 47 games against Utica going 23-17-3-4 over that span. In the last 24 games in Rochester, the Amerks have posted an 11-10-1-2 record.
Defenseman Ethan Prow, who celebrated his 29th birthday, scored his second goal of the season while forward Brett Murray added his third during the second period. Linus Weissbach, Mark Jankowski, Sean Malone and Oskari Laaksonen all were credited with assists during the contest.
Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (4-5-0), the reigning AHL Player of the Week, made his fifth consecutive start and ninth of the season. The Finnish netminder made nine saves but was tagged with the loss.
Aarne Talvitie, Reilly Walsh and Robbie Russo all scored in the victory. With tonight’s win, Utica becomes the just the second team in league history to start the season with 11 straight wins, joining the 1984-85 Amerks. Rookie goaltender Akira Schmid stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced but earned his fifth win of the slate.
After the Amerks were unable to score on four first-period power-plays, the home team turned a 1-0 deficit into a quick 2-1 lead as they tallied a pair of markers 1:42 apart in the second stanza.
On Rochester’s first goal of the game, Jankowski dished a pass from the right corner of Schmid directly onto the stick of Weissbach, who was positioned in-between the face-off circles. As Weissbach had his back to the net, he tapped the puck to Prow just inside the blueline and the defenseman snapped in his second of the season to even the score.
As a result of Utica being called for a pair of penalties, followed by a Rochester infraction, the teams skated 4-on-3 for 1:51.
While the Amerks had the extra skater, Laaksonen held the puck atop the offensive zone before sliding a pass to Malone along the left half-wall. Malone took a few strides before sending a shot-pass to Murray in front of the goal-crease for the latter to redirect in for his third goal in four games.
Murray’s third goal of the season at the 10:46 mark gives both Malone and Laaksonen seven assists on the slate.
Utica reclaimed its 3-2 lead before the end of the second period as Walsh and Russo each tacked on a goal in the final six minutes of the period.
With Walsh’s tally, he connected on a power-play goal from Nolan Foote and Marian Studenic with 5:50 left in the frame before Russo found some puck-luck as he banked a shot off the inside of the pad of Luukkonen from below the goal-line with 46 seconds to go before the intermission.
Over the final period of regulation, Rochester had five shots on goal but was unable to tie the score on a pair of breakaways. The Amerks limited the Comets to just one shot through the first 15 minutes of the period and two in the entire period, but Utica hung on for the 3-2 win.
The Amerks close out their four-game homestand on Friday, Nov. 19 as they welcome the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to The Blue Cross Arena for the only time this season. The 7:05 p.m. tilt will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.