Amerks impressive in 3-1 win over Lehigh Valley
(Rochester, NY) … Seth Griffith notched his first three-point (1+2) performance of the season to lead the Rochester Americans (22-8-3-3) to a 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (21-11-2-3) Saturday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the victory, the Amerks have compiled points in 23 of their last 27 games and have collected 42 points dating back to Nov. 1. Additionally, the Amerks become the third team in the AHL this season to reach the 50-point mark and have back-to-back wins at home for the second time this season.
Griffith sealed the win with his fifth goal of the campaign along with a pair of assists while Kevin Porter tallied his eighth marker of the season and a helper on Griffith’s empty-net goal. Rookie forward and 2018 AHL All-Star selection C.J. Smith ended a career-long seven-game scoring drought as he opened the scoring on the night with his 11th of the year. Linus Ullmark made 26 saves on the night to improve to 17-5-3 on the slate. The Swedish netminder leads the league with 17 wins while also upping his record to 14-2-3 in his last 19 appearances.
Former Amerk T.J. Brennan scored his fifth of the season while goaltender Dustin Tokarski stopped 32 of 35 but suffered the loss. The 28-year-old holds a record of 10-3-3 on the year.
As each of the two Eastern Conference teams tallied a goal in the opening stanza, Porter scored to give the Amerks the lead for good at the 11:40 mark of the second period.
After being sprung on a 2-on-1 rush into the offensive zone from Sahir Gill, Griffith raced towards the cage with Porter. Griffith patiently waited until the defender slid out of the way and sent a one-time feed to Rochester’s captain from the right of Tokarski.
Rochester carried the 2-1 lead into the second intermission and held a 27-19 shot advantage.
The two clubs clamped down defensively during the third period, limiting each other to eight shots, but Griffith sealed the win as he bagged his fifth marker while Tokarski was on the bench for the extra skater with 1:40 left in regulation.
Facing his longest scoring drought of his young career, Smith tucked in a shot inside the right post of Tokarski at the 5:39 mark of the first period to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead. Smith flagged down a pass in-between the face-off dots inside the Phantoms zone from Kyle Criscuolo while the Amerks were on the power-play.
Less than five minutes after Smith’s tally, Brennan evened the score before the Amerks added a goal during each of the last two periods, giving them a 3-1 victory.
Rochester has a goal with the man-advantage in four straight games for the first time all season and have not allowed a goal while shorthanded in 10 straight games dating back to Dec. 15. The penalty kill has gone going 37-for-37 during that span.
The Amerks travel north of the border on Wednesday, Jan. 10 for a North Division showdown against the Belleville Senators at Yardmen Arena. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
Tickets for all remaining 2017-18 Amerks home games are available here.
RCH: Smith (11), Porter (8), Griffith (5, EN)
LV: Brennan (5)
RCH: Ullmark – 26/27 (W)
LV: Tokarski – 32/34 (L)
RCH: PP (1/5) | PK (3/3)
LV: PP (0/3) | PK (4/5)