It wasn't pretty, but they'll take it.
The Rochester Americans allowed five goals on 39 shots to the Binghamton Senators – the league's best goaltending team – and still found a way to win.
Yes, they'll definitely take it.
On the back of forward Kevin Sundher's first career goal, the Amerks made up a two-goal deficit in the third period to defeat the Senators 6-5 in a shootout on Friday night at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Sundher poked a goal past 6-foot-7 Senators goalie Ben Bishop – who entered play with a .947 save percentage – with 9:10 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Our line was creating energy the whole game,” Sundher said. “I thought we played well. Tarns (Nick Tarnasky) and Max (Legault) were really using their bodies and doing what a fourth line should do. They got the puck and put it on net. I got position for the rebound and put it in. So at least I have one goal now.”
The fourth line played much more like the first line on Friday night. Tarnasky, Legualt and Sundher created nine of the team's 42 shots.
“They kept the momentum and got it for us a lot,” head coach Ron Rolston said.
The Amerks opened the game with two first period goals, including one on a brilliant pass by center Cody Hodgson to set up Evan Rankin's sixth goal of the year.
“That was the easiest goal Evan ever scored in his life,” defenseman T.J. Brennan said laughing.
Hodgson finished the game with two assists, including setting up Brennan's 11th of the year with 9:59 left in the game to bring the Amerks within one goal.
“They are known as a team that doesn't give up many goals,” Hodgson said. “So for our offense to kick in like that and our power play to do that well, our whole team did well and all four lines contributed. That's how we need to win games.”
It sure is, because the Amerks' defense – which was supposed to be a strong point – has turned out to be a clear weak spot. Rochester averages the second most shots allowed per game in the American Hockey League and only three teams have allowed more goals.
“We have a lot of young bodies back there and we're making a lot of mistakes,” Rolston said.
In the second period, the Amerks made a season's load of mistakes – two of which led to odd-man rush goals. Then, early in the third, goalie David Leggio allowed an easy short-side chip in by Senators forward Patrick Wiercioch to put the Amerks down 5-3.
But Brennan and Sundher's goals pushed the game to overtime, where Leggio made several high-difficulty saves.
In the shootout, the first two Senators shooters scored on Leggio. With their back up against the wall, Brennan sniped the top corner on the BSens' giant netminder. Leggio made the next stop and the game came down to Marcus Foligno, who tied the shootout with a wrist shot.
After another Leggio save, Hodgson finished the game with another wrister.
“I just try not to think too much,” Hodgson said. “I watched some of the other guys go and he's such a big goalie, he takes away most of the net so there wasn't a whole lot of open room there.”
The Amerks play the Senators again on Saturday night.
Luke Adam – Scored a goal in the first period to make six in his last seven games. While it was a lucky bounce, his play has been noticeably better, putting more shots on goal and more effort on the defensive end.
Brayden McNabb – Made several key mistakes on the offensive side that led to Senators rushes. Also assisted on Brennan's goal. McNabb's game has been inconsistent offensively and his physical play nonexistent.
Zemgus Girgensons – Was playing on the top line last week, but struggled to get ice time on Friday. It's hard to make sense of how the Amerks are using him.
Marcus Foligno – Came up big during the shootout, but it seems he's having trouble finding chemistry with line mates when they change every game. He attempted to take the puck to the net himself several times on Friday night. He's better suited plugging away in front of the net and getting hard-work goals.
Max Legault – Played a great game, giving a supreme offensive and defensive effort. He had four shots, one assist and numerous hits.
Mark Mancari – Had six shots and two assists on Friday night. He also made several turnovers in the defensive zone that nearly cost the Amerks. His play, however, has been much stronger over the last stretch of games.
Kevin Porter – Sniped a beautiful goal on an outstanding blind pass by Mancari. Those two with Luke Adam have been clicking.
T.J. Brennan – Continues to shine on the offensive end. His wrist shot that went by Ben Bishop was NHL caliber.
Nick Tarnasky – Put forth his strongest offensive effort of the year creating several chances and controlling the puck. The Amerks are a better team when he's in the lineup.