(Rochester, NY)Ö Bill Thomas and Mark Cullen each scored goals during the skills competition and goaltender Tyler Plante stopped all four shooters as the Rochester Americans earned a 4-3 shootout win over the Hamilton Bulldogs this afternoon at Copps Coliseum. The Amerks, coming off a season-high four-game winning streak, have now won five of their last six (26-27-3-2) and remain just eight points out of a playoff spot with just 22 games to go.
Michal Repik potted a pair of goals for the visiting the Amerks and Chris Taylor also assisted on two, giving the 19-year pro five points (3+2) in his last five games. The game was Repikís first multi-goal game this season. Plante, who started his eighth consecutive game this afternoon, earned his 10th win of the season with a 26-save effort. Plante has now gone 5-3 in his last eight starts.
Gabriel Dumont (1+1) led the hometown Bulldogs with a two-point game as 2011 AHL All-Star goaltender Curtis Sanford stopped 23 shots in the loss.
After a scoreless opening period, Rochester drew first blood midway through the second stanza as team-leading point-getter Repik redirected Mike Kostkaís shot from the top of the right point past Sanford for his 10th of the season. After receiving a pass from the low corner from Taylor, Kostka quickly fired a shot through traffic where Repik made a perfect deflection of the crossbar for his first of game at the 12:37 mark.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Hamilton answered back just over two minutes later off a goal-mouth scramble in front of Plante. After making back-to-back point-blank saves, Planteís attempt to control the goal-line rebound was denied as Dumont swept it past the Amerks netminder for his fifth goal of the season. Alexander Avtsin would get the lone assist on the goal at 14:43 to make it a 1-1 game.
Rochester regained the lead late in the period on its first power-play of the game as Repik netted his second of the contest to put the Amerks back on top 2-1. After Hamiltonís Kyle Klubertanz was called for tripping, the leagueís best power-play unit on the road went to work, requiring just 65 seconds on the man-advantage. Sanford came up with several big saves, including two at the front of his crease, before Repik used the veteran goaltender to his advantage and banked the puck off his back from behind the net. Thomas and Michael Duco each tabbed assists on the tally.
The Bulldogs rallied again early in the final frame as former Amerk Jimmy Bonneau found the back of the net for the first time this season. Bonneau, stationed in the high slot, took a pass from Dumont from the near corner and sent a low shot on Plante. As it made its way through the congestion at the front of the net, the puck caromed of PJ Fentonís skate and past Plante to level off the scoring at two goals apiece.
The teams would then exchange power-play tallies later in the period, starting with Hamiltonís tally at 10:14 to take its first lead of the game. After Rochesterís Repik and Michael Caruso took consecutive penalties 16 seconds apart, the Bulldogs capitalized on the two-man advantage as Klubertanz boomed a high-rising shot from the top of the right circle over the right shoulder of Plante. The goal was his eighth of the season and second point of the day for the Hamilton forward.
The Amerks responded with their second straight power-play goal as Taylor found Joe Callahan in the low slot, where he beat Sanford on the short-side to even out the contest at 3-3. Taylor, set up in the low corner, caught a streaking Callahan, who left his post at the blueline to join the play, with a great back-door pass where Callahan was left uncontested and in the prime position to covert on the play for his fourth goal of the season. Cullen also assisted on the goal at 13:33 that ultimately forced overtime.
Despite an up-and-back extra session that included a third power-play opportunity for Rochester, the Amerks could not penetrate the Hamilton defense, although outshooting the Bulldogs 4-2 during the added five minutes of four-on-four play.
Going into the shootout, it was all Rochester from there as Thomas and Cullen converted on their chances while Plante was flawless in denying all four Hamilton attempts, giving the Amerks a hard-earned 4-3 win.