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Adam scores, McNabb posts 4 points, Amerks lose 5-4 to Crunch

The Rochester Americans blew a 4-1 against the Syracuse Crunch Friday night. The Amerks lost 5-4 in a shootout after allowing a pair of third period power play goals.


Here are some of the notable performances from the loss:

Luke Adam

Adam's night didn't start out ideally. Early in the first period, Adam "clicked heels" with a Crunch skater, sending him flying to the ground. He got up slowly and spent the next two shifts on the bench.

On his next shift, Adam scored his eighth goal of the season – this in just Rochester's eighth game. The goal came via another point shot. This time by Brayden McNabb. This time a better result: Adam tipped the puck past goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead.

Adam said he was not as thrilled with his overall play on Friday night, only getting one shot on goal and fumbling several pucks when he had a chance to create a scoring chance.

The Amerks' 23-year-old winger has been trying to crack the Sabres' lineup for the first time since the 2011-12 season, but until these first eight games he had done little to force their hand.

But his goal scoring just won't quit.

As for the bane of his existence during Lindy Ruff's tenure – defense – Adam's game is notably improved in the effort category. He has also been spending a decent amount of time on the penalty kill and in late-game situations.

Buffalo is overbooked with struggling veterans and young NHL'ers that are in over their head playing for the league's worst team. Too many players and not enough options. The only guys that could be sent to Rochester without being waived are Johan Larsson, Brian Flynn and Rasmus Ristolainen. The first two have played well for Buffalo, the other is among the group of highly-touted prospects that are expected to be in the long-term plans for the Sabres.

So it might take awhile.


Phil Varone

Two seasons ago, Phil Varone earned himself a two-way contract by leading the Amerks in scoring. But last year he struggled to get on the scoreboard, in large part because he was bumped down to the third line by NHL'ers who were eligible to play in the AHL during the lockout.

This year, Varone is back to being the player he was two years ago. He took over the team lead in points on Friday night with two assists. The second was on an especially pretty outlet pass to Brayden McNabb, who was streaking out of the penalty box. McNabb finished off the breakaway with a backhand goal.

Varone finished the night with 10 shots.

The former sixth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks isn't expected to be an NHL player long term, but he's one of those guys you keep an eye on. Varone has a chip on his shoulder and decent hands. If he continues to score at this rate, he may force the Sabres' hand.

Brayden McNabb

In the first stanza of the Amerks' season, McNabb hasn't been himself on the offensive side of the ice. That changed on Friday night. The third-year pro not only scored on a nifty backhand shot, he also played a role on Rochester's other two goals in the first period.

On the goal, McNabb broke out of the penalty box and rushed toward the net.

"It was kind of a weird play," he said. "It doesn't happen very often, but Phil (Varone) made a great pass and I was able to finish."

His first assist, the Adam tip in, was on a simple flip to the net – something he hadn't been doing enough in the early going. Coach Chadd Cassidy had noted McNabb's need to simply shoot the puck, whether it be with a simple wrister or his powerful slap shot.

"I like to shoot when I can," McNabb said. "Sometimes I think they're cheating a little bit on Sulzer so I like to give it to him."

McNabb picked up another assist on the Amerks' fourth goal – created directly by a beautiful pass by Jamie Tardif right onto the tape of forward Kevin Sundher, who was waiting in the goal mouth.


Matt Hackett

Goalie Matt Hackett needed a little redemption of his own on Friday night. Of the seven games the Amerks had played this year, Hackett had either been pulled or benched in four of them. Both benchings and one pull related to him losing his temper and taking bad penalties.

In the unfriendly confines of the War Memorial in Syracuse, Hackett played a strong game. In the third period, the Amerks were doing their best to give away a 4-2 lead but their goaltender stood strong. He kept his cool, too, only giving up two goals to Lightning super prospect Nikita Kucherov.

Hackett, who was part of the Sabres' deal to send Jason Pominville to Minnesota, stood strong on several power plays and a second-period breakaway by former Amerk Evan Rankin.

In the third period, the Amerks sat back on their heels, allowing the Crunch to get 19 shots to Rochester's five. Two of the pucks found the back of the net, tying the game at 4 a piece.

The Crunch won the shootout, ruining a solid performance by Hackett. He faced 40 shots and stopped 36.

"Tonight was huge for Hack," captain Matt Ellis said. "It is a real building block for him. Coming into this building, I'm sure he had a sour taste after the way things went last time for him. He came in mentally prepared and did a heck of a job."


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