O'Reilly sends Amerks home a winner 3-2
(Buffalo, NY) - The Rochester Americans (22-29-0-2) earned a 3-2 overtime decision over the Utica Comets (21-23-7-2) just 24 seconds into the extra session with Cal O’Reilly’s ninth goal of the season. It marked the second straight season that O’Reilly sealed an Amerks win in Buffalo in a game that went beyond regulation after he scored the in the third-round of the shootout last season.
While O’Reilly scored to give the Amerks back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 31 - Jan. 6, rookie forwards Hudson Fasching and Vaclav Karabacek each lit the lamp in the victory. O’Reilly now shows 32 points (7+25) over his last 35 games and Karabacek has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his AHL career. At the backend of the ice for Rochester, goaltender Linus Ullmark improved to 20-19-2 on the campaign after making 37 saves on 39 shots. The Swedish netminder boasts a record of 12-9-1 over his last 22 appearances and has won each of his last two starts.
The Comets picked up goals from centers Mike Zalewski and Cody Kunyk while Richard Bachman stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced and dropped to 12-11-3 on the campaign.
A full 60 minutes was not enough to decide a winner between the two North Division rivals as the game was tied at 2-2. Despite losing the opening face-off to begin the extra session, Amerks forward Nick Baptiste forced a Comet into the far corner before gathering control of the puck. As the second-year pro tried to make a move on the cage, Bachman dove to poke the puck away from Baptiste but O’Reilly was quick to scoop it up. Rochester’s captain tapped home his ninth marker of the slate to gain the extra point for the Amerks.
“It was not a Picasso out there,” said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert describing the overtime winner. “I don’t know if it was the Buffalo ice, but the result was there.
After the Amerks allowed the opening goal of the game at the 14:38 of the first period, the hosts tied the game at 1-1 just five seconds later with Fasching’s fourth of the season.
On the ensuing face-off following the Utica tally, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda won the draw back to defensemen Paul Geiger. The rookie blueliner dumped the puck into the Comets zone off the glass, and as Bachman went out to play the quick-moving puck, it caromed off the glass and onto the stick of Fasching. The rookie wasted little time sending it into the vacant cage to tie the game with his first goal since Jan. 25.
“The goal, despite being a weird open net one, was really big for me,” said Fasching. “I have been struggling as of late to put up some points, so to get back on the scoresheet was a good feeling. This season, as a team, there has been some bounces that went against us, so tonight it was good to finally get some going in our direction.”
As the teams came out of the intermission break knotted up a 1-1, Karabacek rifled a shot past the blocker of the Utica netminder with 8:32 left in the middle period. Jean Dupuy and Tyson Strachan each earned a helper on the tally.
The Comets did not go away quietly, however, as they fired 16 shots on the Ullmark throughout the course of the final 20 minutes and tied the game less than six minutes into the frame which forced overtime.
The Amerks went 0-for-5 while on the man advantage in the contest, but the penalty kill successfully killed off all four infractions against one of the top power-play units in the Eastern Conference.
“While I liked our start to the game,” said Lambert, “I really thought our penalty kill unit was really strong and one of the big keys to the game.”
The Amerks begin a home-and-home series with the North Division rival Syracuse Crunch beginning on Friday, Feb. 24 at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. Following Friday night’s contest, the series shifts to Syracuse on Saturday night for a 7:00 p.m. rematch at the War Memorial Arena. Both of the contests will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Fasching (4), Karabacek (3), O’Reilly (9) - OT
UTI: Kunyk (9), Zalewski (2)
RCH: Ullmark - 37/39 (W)
UTI: Bachman - 23/26 (OTL)
RCH: PP (0/5) / PK (4/4)
UTI: PP (0/4) / PK (5/5)