ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It didn’t take long for forward Peyton Krebs to demonstrate just how meaningful he could be for the Rochester Americans this season. While the Amerks didn’t get the result they wanted, Krebs looked outstanding in the 4-1 loss to the Toronto Marlies on Friday night. Coach Seth Appert was not afraid to mix up the lines in Friday’s contest, giving Krebs the opportunity to play in between Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, and Michael Mersch to name a few. Although he did not register any shots on goal, his ability to find his wingers and thread passes in between opposing defensemen won’t go unrewarded for long.
Coach Appert was impressed with Krebs’ performance, saying postgame that “he was outstanding tonight, could’ve easily walked off with two or three points.”
All About the Finish
For the second game in a row, the Amerks came out in the first period ready to play. On Friday night, they led the Marlies in shots on goal 11-4 at the end of the first period. But, similar to Wednesday night’s matchup with the Belleville Senators, the Amerks – who controlled the pace of the game during the first – found themselves down one at the first intermission. Defenseman Oskari Laaksonen was issued a double-minor for high-sticking Marlies forward Kurtis Gabriel, giving the Marlies their first real opportunity of the contest. The Amerks were unable to kill off the first of the two minor penalties before Brett Seney gave the Marlies a 1-0 lead.
The second period was more evenly matched, as the two teams traded opportunities at both ends. Both teams forced the respective starting goaltenders, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Erik Kallgren, to come up with some big saves to keep this one a 1-0 hockey game. Neither team was able to convert on special teams in the period, the Amerks coming up short on one opportunity and the Marlies coming up short on two. Toward the end of the period, the Amerks began to control the pace of the game once again. It felt like it was only a matter of moments before Mersch extended his goal scoring streak to tie this one at 1-1 going into the third. The Marlies had other ideas. After finally clearing their defensive zone, Kirill Semyonov was able to beat a delayed icing call and controlled the puck behind UPL. Semyonov was able to find a streaking Josh Ho-Sang in the slot with 18 seconds left in the second period, giving the Marlies a 2-0 lead going into the third.
It wasn’t long into the third period before the Amerks were finally rewarded for their play. Sean Malone found Peterka in the neutral zone, and Peterka reminded us all of just how dangerous he can be with a little space. Defended by three Marlies, Peterka was able to enter the zone uncontested and was able to let off a shot with a similar amount of ease. The shot was enough to almost make the Amerks’ color analyst Ric Seiling swear on air. It was textbook top-shelf cheese for Peterka, who brought the Amerks back to within one, and the celebration was one for the books.
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) November 6, 2021
Unfortunately for the Amerks, Kallgren was the story of the night for the Marlies. There certainly wasn’t a lack of opportunity for Rochester in this one, but each shot was met with ease by the Swedish netminder.
UPL vacated the net in an attempt to even this one up, but there Marlies were able to extend their lead to 3-1 on an empty-net goal by Mikhail Abramov, sparked by a weird play in the Marlies’ zone. Defenseman Casey Fitzgerald attempted to send the puck behind the Marlies’ net, but found the side of Jack Quinn’s head instead. Quinn went down, and Seney was able to corral the puck and found Abramov for the easy insurance goal. Quinn went to the room immediately, but is expected to be okay. The Marlies tacked on another empty-net goal with 33 seconds left to win the game by a final of 4-1.
Don’t let the scoreboard fool you in this one – it was a lot closer than the numbers imply, and Amerks fans have to be happy with the way the team performed on Friday, especially with the addition of Krebs. UPL looked solid in this one, something that should ease some nerves. On the season, UPL has a .831 save percentage, with a goals-against average of 4.36, a statline that will certainly need to improve for the Amerks to have any success this season.
Luckily for the Americans, they have ample opportunity to regroup following Friday’s loss as they won’t take the ice again until Wednesday when they take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on the road. This will give Appert plenty of time to begin to build chemistry between the players who have been integral to the success of the Amerks so far, and Peyton Krebs. There’s no denying that Krebs makes this team better – one could even argue that the Americans have one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire AHL. It may take a few games, but putting a player like Krebs between players such as Quinn and Peterka can only yield good results.
Something will have to give on Wednesday. The story of the season thus far for the Penguins has been their back-end, having only given up an average of 2.78 goals per game. Without a stellar back-end, the Penguins’ season would look immensely different as they are only averaging 2.11 goals per game. Alternatively, the Amerks’ have relied on their offense to win them high scoring contests, averaging 4.00 goals per game, while allowing a whopping 4.25 goals per game.
Can Krebs register his first point as an Amerk? Can WBS find a way to generate offense? This one will certainly be one to watch.
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