Strong 2nd period propels Amerks to 7-4 win in game 2

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (ROCHESTER AMERKS) – The Rochester Americans (5-2) erupted for four goals in span of 2:45 in the second period – including scoring twice in 13 seconds – on their way to a convincing 7-4 win over the top-seeded Toronto Marlies (3-3) in Game 2 of the North Division Finals Saturday afternoon at Coca-Cola Coliseum.

By winning their fifth straight, the Amerks take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series and are now one win away from moving onto the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2004. It’s also the first time Rochester jumped out to a 2-0 series lead since sweeping Hamilton in the opening round of the best-of-seven series in 2005.

Seven different goal-scorers found the back of the net, with four scoring their first of the postseason, while five Amerks finished with multi-point efforts, including a team-high three points from Sean Malone (1+2) and Mason Jobst (0+3). Joseph Cecconi, Michael Mersch and Brendan Warren, who made his playoff debut, each notched a goal and an assist. Jiri Kulich, Jeremy Davies and Lukas Rousek rounded out the scoring with Kulich extending his goal-scoring streak to an AHL-best five straight games.

Malcolm Subban, who’s played every second of the postseason, delivered yet another impressive performance between the pipes, stopping 34 of the 38 shots he faced to pick up his fifth straight win of the postseason. His five playoff wins are tied for second-most in the AHL among all netminders.

Nick Abruzzese and Max Ellis each recorded had a goal and an assist while Pontus Holmberg and Alex Steeves each scored for the Marlies, who are on the brink of elimination. Erik Kallgren and Keith Petruzelli combined for 24 saves in the loss for Toronto, which went 4-for-6 on the power-play.

After heavily relying on special teams to spark the win in Game 1, Rochester picked up it where it left off on Thursday, capitalizing on its first power-play opportunity of the game to take a 1-0 lead. With the man-advantage three seconds away from expiring, Prow sent a pass from the center point to Jobst at the left wall and skated towards the low slot seeming looking for a lane to shoot. As Jobst was pressured by a pair of Toronto defenders, he shoveled a last-second pass across the slot for Kulich, who released a quick shot past Kallgren to put the Amerks ahead.

Kulich, who scored the second-most goals in league history by an 18-year-old during the regular season, now has goals in five straight games, the longest goal-scoring in the postseason by an AHL rookie since Brendan Ranford scored in five straight games in 2014. It also the longest in an AHL postseason since Peter Holland scored in six straight playoff games for Toronto in 2014.

Jobst and Prow earned the assists on Kulich’s fifth of the postseason, extending their point streaks to five and four games, respectively.

Toronto answered back with a power-play goal of its own just 1:20 into the middle frame following a carryover penalty from Jobst, who was assessed a cross-checking penalty at the end of the first period. After taking a pass from Hollowell, Abruzzese, who opened the scoring in Game 1, drifted towards the high slot before whipping a shot inside the left post past a screened Subban.

The contest remained tied only temporarily as Rochester erupted for four goals in less than three minutes – including twice in 13 seconds – to take their largest lead of the day. The Amerks’ first came at 4:28 when Davies crept in from the left point uncontested and fired a shot past Källgren for his first of the playoffs.

Rousek answered 90 seconds later after blasting home a one-time feed from Jobst. Rousek carried the puck into the Toronto zone along the right wall and left it for a trailing Jobst as he approached the top of the right face-off circle. Jobst quickly returned the puck back to a waiting Rousek, who zipped the offering into the upper corner.

The Amerks added two more in 13 seconds, beginning with Malone, who somehow eluded coverage, was left wide open to redirect a centering feed from Cecconi at the top of the crease. Cecconi then notched his first career playoff goal after his shot from the point pinballed its way through traffic and past Petruzelli, who relieved Källgren just seconds prior.

The Marlies ended the four-goal run with another power-play goal from Ellis at 10:08, capping a combined five-goal period between the two teams. After Subban denied Niemelä’s long range attempt from the blueline, the rebound kicked out toward the slot, where Ellis flipped it over the outstretched leg of the Amerks netminder to make it 5-2. Rochester maintained the three-goal lead heading into the intermission despite being outshot by Toronto 20-14 during the frame.

Just 4:43 into the third period, Rochester was caught with too many men on the ice and the Marlies needed only 20 seconds of the ensuing man-advantage to capitalize when Holmberg snapped a shot through traffic and past Subban.

Rochester, however, restored its three-goal lead with another power-play goal from Mersch. After surveying the landscape, Malone was able to draw Petruzelli out of his crease long enough to set-up Mersch for a back-door feed at 7:12 to make it 6-3.

Warren sealed the win with an empty-net goal at 16:15 before Steeved scored Toronto’s fourth power-play goal of the game in the final minutes.

The best-of-five series shifts back to Rochester where the Amerks have a chance to close out the top-seeded Marlies when the teams meet for Game 3 of the North Division Finals on Wednesday, May 17 at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.