Sheldon Keefe opted to ice a makeshift lineup for the third game in as many days, sending players back to Toronto for much-needed rest while giving others an opportunity to impress.
What resulted was a game littered with defensive mistakes and goals galore as the Marlies fell to a second consecutive defeat in extra hockey.
It took just 48 seconds for Rochester to open the scoring after Andreas Borgman couldn’t settle a pass down on the left wall of the defensive zone and turned the puck over. Colin Blackwell set up Sahir Gill alone in the slot on the game’s first recorded shot.
The lead lasted just 23 seconds after Jeremy Bracco found Mason Marchment at the far post on a 3-on-1 rush. It was an unconventional finish by Marchment after he lost his balance and tucked the puck in on the second effort, but they all count.
The Marlies couldn’t make a following power play count, but they did put themselves ahead a little later at the four-minute mark. After a good puck recovery on the forecheck by Marchment, Chris Mueller was left alone in the slot and he netted his 16th of the year on a feed from Bracco — the rookie winger’s second primary assist of the period.
That wrapped up the scoring for the opening period despite the teams sharing 24 shots and missing the target on countless other looks from promising positions.
The middle frame was one forget for the Marlies, to say the least.
After Blackwell was unable to make Toronto pay for a turnover 90 seconds in, starting with the first goal 6:16 into the period, Rochester turned the game on its head in a four-minute span.
First, Jesper Lindgren’s high-risk no-look pass into the middle of the defensive zone went astray and Rochester’s Hudson Fasching took full advantage. It wasn’t a game to remember for the Swedish defenseman; he also could’ve done better defending the rush of Justin Bailey, who beat Calvin Pickard far side to put Rochester up 3-2, although Pickard might’ve wanted that one back.
The third unanswered Amerks goal arrived during a spell of four-on-four action. After a turnover up the wall by Borgman, Blackwell skated around every single Marlies skater before rounding Pickard for his 16th of the season.
Toronto’s goaltender kept his team in the game for the remainder of the second period, however, and the Marlies rebounded early in the final frame of regulation.
In another early-period strike, Jean Dupuy beat Jonas Johansson far side from the left circle just 39 seconds in. Less than four minutes later, the game was tied at 4-4 following a beautiful passing move, with Bracco and Lindgren playing providers for Mueller’s second of the game.
Toronto then surged ahead 5-4 with eight minutes on the clock when a breakout play from their own zone released Kyle Baun in acres of space down the left wing. Baun drove unattended into the heart of the Amerks zone before sending a delightful reverse pass to Frederik Gauthier, who finished well from the slot.
It looked for all the money as if the Marlies were going to collect the two points, but the Amerks finally made one of their 18 third-period shots count to send the game into extra time. With six skaters on, Rochester won a couple of battles following an offensive zone faceoff and Fasching netted the rebound to tie the game up at 5-5 with 1:09 remaining.
The Americans have been the kings of overtime this season: This was the 29th extra time game for them, tying an AHL record.
Both goaltenders produced a save of note in the extra five minutes as Seth Griffith and Mueller, respectively, came close to claiming the winner.
Almost inevitably, it was another avoidable mistake that decided the game, as a bad change by the Marlies left Gill all alone to receive a stretch pass.
Scrambling to get back in the play, Marchment was a sitting duck as Gill easily went around him before solving Pickard to secure the extra point, moving Rochester two points clear of Utica and into third place of the North Division.
Post Game Notes
– This was the Marlies first overtime loss on the road this season, but the single point means they’ve set a new AHL record for road points in a single season with 61 (29-5-1-1).
– Chris Mueller recorded a pair of goals and a three-point haul for just the second time this season. He’s now just one point shy of 50 points for the year.
– Jeremy Bracco registered three assists, the second time he’s accomplished that feat in his last six games. He’s now hit 30 points in 48 games for the season, with 13 of those accrued in his last 11 games.
– Kyle Baun’s two assists broke a six-game pointless streak for the winger.
– Mason Marchment reached 25 points in his 42 game with a goal and an assist.
– Saturday’s lines: