Amerks lose to Crunch for second time this season

Posted at: 11/01/2013 11:38 PM
Updated at: 11/01/2013 11:46 PM

(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) – Despite a career-high four-point game from defenseman Brayden McNabb, the Rochester Americans fell in a shootout by a score of 5-4 to the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The loss moves Rochester’s record to 4-2-1-1 on the season and gives the team at least one point in five straight games.

McNabb finished with a goal and three assists to help stake the Amerks to a 4-2 lead entering the third period, but the Crunch were able to rally in the final 20 minutes to force overtime before eventually winning in the shootout. 

Jamie Tardif recorded a goal and an assist for Rochester while Phil Varone collected two assists to extend his point streak to eight games and give him a team-high 12 points (2+10) on the season.  Luke Adam scored again for Rochester, giving him a team-leading eight goals in eight games, and Alexander Sulzer extended his point streak to five games with an assist. Kevin Sundher rounded out the scoring for the Amerks, who also got a stellar 36-save performance from goaltender Matt Hackett.

Syracuse forward Nikita Kucherov matched McNabb with a four-point night of his own (2+2) while Nikita Nesterov and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored in regulation before Cedric Paquette netted the shootout winner for Syracuse.  Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis finished with 29 saves.

Adam got the scoring going at the 3:25 mark of the first period with his eighth goal of the season – and fourth on the power play – by capitalizing on an early man-advantage opportunity. McNabb fired a wrist shot into traffic from the right point, and Adam re-directed the puck in front to give Rochester the 1-0 lead. 

Syracuse tied the game just 33 seconds later when Kucherov, who was named the AHL Rookie of the Month for October earlier in the day, was sprung for a breakaway and beat Hackett for his ninth of the season. J.T. Brown picked up the primary assist by making the long stretch pass to Kucherov while Dmitry Korobov also picked up an assist.

Later in the period, Syracuse took two penalties on a play that featured a near-breakaway goal by Sundher. Just 21 seconds into the two-man advantage, Tardif took in a pass from Varone and snapped a shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle past the Crunch netminder as Rochester regained the lead. Varone extended his point streak to eight games with the assist while McNabb also collected a helper on the goal.

McNabb recorded his third point of the opening 20 minutes by scoring on a breakaway at 14:21 of the first.  After serving two minutes for hooking, McNabb stepped out of the penalty box and was hit with a home run pass from Varone that sent McNabb in alone for the goal to give the Amerks a 3-1 lead.

Rochester took a 4-1 lead early in the second period. Tardif skated around the top of the right face-off circle with the puck and sent a pass back toward the goal-mouth, where a streaking Sundher tapped it in as he was being hauled down by a Crunch defender.  McNabb also registered an assist on the goal for his fourth point of the night.

Kucherov made it a two-goal deficit for Syracuse less than a minute later when he got behind the Rochester defense and potted his second goal of the game and league-leading 10th of the season.

Syracuse would eventually tie the game with a pair of power play goals in the latter stages of the third period. First, Nesterov scored on a back-door play off a feed from Namestnikov, who made a pass from below the right circle to far post.  Then, Namestnikov tied the game when he swept in a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble on another power play.

After a scoreless overtime period, Paquette scored the game-deciding goal in a five-round shootout to give Syracuse the victory.