Amerks snap four-game skid in Syracuse

After tying the Syracuse Crunch (24-21-3-5) twice during Saturday’s contest at Upstate Medical University Arena to force overtime, the Rochester Americans (28-17-2-4) scored a pair of goals in the shootout to end a four-game losing skid and come out on top with a 4-3 shootout win.
The victory helps the Amerks improve to 6-2-0-0 this season against the Crunch while also giving them a 12-6-1-1 record in the last 20 meetings dating back to the 2017-18 campaign. More importantly, Rochester reclaims second place in the AHL’s North Division standings ahead of Sunday’s matinee with the Utica Comets.
Brett Murray opened the scoring for Rochester, which has tallied a power-play goal in 16 of the last 30 games against Syracuse, while Andrew MacWilliam and C.J. Smith found the back of the net in regulation. Andrew Oglevie scored in the opening round of the shootout while Casey Mittelstadt sealed the win as he added the dagger in the third round. Rookie goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2-3-1) made 20 saves, including a pair in the skills competition, to earn his second win of the season. Jean-Sebastien Dea appeared in his 400th professional game while Taylor Leier celebrated his 26th birthday.
Otti Somppi, Boris Katchouk and Alexander Volkov all scored for the Crunch, who entered the contest winners in four of their previous five games. Netminder Spencer Martin (8-11-4) stopped 36 of 41 shots he faced in the contest but suffered the overtime loss.
The Amerks entered the final 20 minutes of regulation holding a narrow 2-1 lead, a 24-9 shot advantage and 29 seconds of carryover power-play time. However, the Crunch flipped the one-goal deficit into a 3-2 lead as they tallied a pair of markers 35 seconds apart just 1:13 into the period.
Despite giving up the lead, Rochester earned its fourth power-play of the night at the 15:12 mark as Remi Elie drew a hooking infraction inside the offensive zone. While on the man-advantage, Rasmus Asplund tracked down the loose puck behind the Syracuse net and dished a pass to Smith at the left point. After handing Jacob Bryson the puck atop the zone, Smith took a return pass and blasted a one-time feed inside the post to even the score at 3-3 with his 10th of slate.
Bryson’s assist was his 18th of the season, which ranks eighth among all first-year skaters in the AHL this season.
Neither team was able to break the 3-3 tie for the final 14:32 of regulation, plus the five-minute sudden death overtime, resulting in the shootout.
To begin the skills competition, Rochester elected to shoot first and used the trio of Oglevie, Leier and Mittelstadt.
Oglevie gave the Amerks a 1-0 lead as he beat the goaltender with a five-hole tally before Luukkonen denied Volkov’s attempt. After both Leier and Alex Barre-Boulet were unable to score, Mitteltstadt carried the puck into the zone, and once out in front of the netminder, he backhanded it overtop the glove of Martin to seal the 4-3 shootout victory.
Syracuse, who was held to only one shot in the first period, opened the scoring 2:44 into the second period before Murray tied the game as he redirected his eighth of season near the 5:00 mark.
Murray tied up a Crunch skater at the right half-wall before racing towards the front of the goal crease. Brandon Hickey eventually found the puck and sent it to Oglevie, who quickly fired it in the direction of Martin. Prior to the shot reaching the netminder, Murray steered it into the net to knot the score at 1-1.
Later in the period, and exactly eight minutes after Murray’s marker, Mittelstadt stepped in front of an errant pass to the left of Martin before spotting MacWilliam entering the zone from his defensive position. As he gathered the puck, Mittelstadt deftly sent a pass through the center of the zone and into the wheelhouse of the blueliner for his second goal of the season, which gave Rochester a 2-1 lead going into the final period.
Mittelstadt recorded the lone helper on the tally, his third in the last three games. The former first-round pick now has six points (1+5) through the first seven games of February and has not gone more than two games without a point since opening the 2020 calendar year on a season-long four-game point streak (3+1).
Syracuse scored a pair of goals in the third period while Rochester tied the game and scored twice in the shootout.

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