For the first time since 2004, the Rochester Americans have won two series in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Forwards Arttu Ruotsalainen, Sean Malone and Mark Jankowski scored third-period goals Thursday as the Amerks rallied to defeat the top-seeded Utica Comets 4-2 and win the best-of-five AHL North Division semifinal 3-2.
After Ruotsalainen’s power-play goal tied it at the 3:21 mark, Malone put the Amerks up at 6:45, beating Utica goalie Nico Daws from above the right circle in Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Jankowski’s empty-net goal at 18:59 sealed the Amerks’ first regulation victory of the playoffs. Incredibly, they won their first four games 4-3 in overtime.
The Amerks, the Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate, will play the Laval Rocket in the North Division final. The best-of-five series begins Sunday in Laval.
Defenseman Casey Fitzgerald registered the Amerks’ other goal 9:10 into Thursday’s game. Comets forwards Fabian Zetterlund and Alexander Holtz responded with two quick goals, and that lead held up until Ruotsalainen scored his AHL-best eighth postseason goal. Ruotsalainen’s 11 points also top the league.
Amerks goalie Aaron Dell made 19 saves. Winger Lukas Rousek recorded two assists. Fitzgerald added an assist.
The Amerks also won the best-of-three play-in round against the Belleville Senators earlier this month.
The complete series schedule is below:
– Game 1, Sunday, Rochester at Laval, 7p.m.
– Game 2, Monday, Rochester at L aval, 7 p.m.
– Game 3, Wednesday, Laval at Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
– *Game 4, May 27, Laval at Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
– *Game 5, May 29, Rochester at Laval, 7 p.m.
* if necessary