Amerks bounce back with convincing home win
(Rochester, NY)"| Andrey Makarov stopped all but one of the 33 shots he faced and Phil Varone and Mikhail Grigorenko each finished with three-point nights as the Rochester Americans downed the Lake Erie Monsters 4-1 Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The contest was the first of the year between the former division rivals, as Lake Erie moved to the AHL's Midwest Division following the 2013-14 season. With the win, the Amerks improve their record to 12-18-1-0 on the season.
Along with a goal and two assists from Varone, the Amerks offense was guided by multi-point efforts from both Joel Armia and Grigorenko, who combined for five points (1 4) on the night. Chad Ruhwedel and Brayden Irwin each added a power-play goal for the Amerks. For Ruhwedel, his tally was his seventh on the season, with all of those goals coming on the man-advantage. Makarov, appearing in his 17th game of the season, backstopped the Amerks to earn his eighth win of the year on a 32-save performance.
Stefan Elliott scored the lone goal for Lake Erie, while Roman Will allowed three goals on the 25 shots he faced.
The Amerks jumped ahead to a two-goal lead in the opening 10 minutes of the contest on Varone and Ruhwedel's goals. The first, from Varone, began on a cycle between Grigorenko and Armia in the Lake Erie corner. As Armia swung towards the slot, he received a pass from Grigorenko and dished a nifty back-hand pass to Varone, who, with plenty of time and space, snapped a shot under Will's blocker to open the scoring.
Rochester's power-play, which entered the contest ranked 11th overall in the AHL, took advantage of a Lake Erie penalty 9:38 into the first period on Ruhwedel's seventh of the season. The second-year defenseman, who has notched all his tallies this season with the man-advantage, collected the puck at the top of the zone and wired a slap-shot that deflected off a Monster defender's stick and found a way to the back of the net.
Lake Erie was the beneficiary of three Rochester penalties during the middle frame, including a four-minute double-minor late in the period. While the Amerks were able to deny the first half of the four-minute power-play, Elliott found himself alone in front and cashed in with 28 seconds left in the second period to cut Rochester's lead in half.
Looking at a critical two-man advantage with five minutes left in regulation, the Amerks power-play converted for the second time of the night when Varone fed Irwin from behind the net. Irwin's one-timer caught Will out of position to put Rochester in front 3-1.
The Monsters pulled Will for the extra man with just over two minutes left in the third period, but Armia added some insurance for the Amerks with a breakaway tally into the empty net to bring the score to 4-1 and seal the victory for Rochester.