There’s no rest for the wicked as the IceCaps were set to close out their St. Patrick’s Day weekend series with the Rochester Americans. St. John’s secured the win on Friday night on the back of a dominant Charlie Lindgren performance in net, and would get more of the same from their netminder on Saturday.
After a quiet few weeks the IceCaps top line dominated the opening period, and give Lindgren an early lead to work with. Less than four minutes into the opening period Charles Hudon broke into the offensive zone with the puck, and fired a harmless shot from below the goal line on Linus Ullmark. Unfortunately for the Swedish goalie he left just enough space for the shot to get through and the IceCaps took an early 1-0 lead.
With Patrick Mullen sitting for holding, a struggling St. John’s power play found its legs once more. Nikita Scherbak started the play off with a pass to Joel Hanley, who dished back to Scherbak. The Russian then found Chris Terry in his customary spot by the right faceoff circle. Terry made no mistake and rocketed home his 24th goal of the season and doubled his team’s lead.
Chris Terry, knee down one-timer, goal.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 19, 2017
Like clockwork these days pic.twitter.com/AXN3MXBCcd
From there on the IceCaps’ defensive game took over, bolstered by a red-hot Lindgren between the pipes. A second-period penalty kill was little threat and the IceCaps netminder turned away all 10 shots he faced in the frame.
Despite not increasing their lead any further, the IceCaps sent a physical message in the middle period. Josiah Didier tussled with Justin Vaive, and Max Friberg leveled Alexander Nylander with a beautiful open-ice hit as well.
Alex Nylander has had better days, Friberg and Audette rough the rookie up a bit on this shift pic.twitter.com/vo2RetutJ4— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 19, 2017
The third period held much of the same for both sides, with the IceCaps stifling any Amerks attempt at a comeback. The penalty kill finished the weekend with a spotless record by adding another two successful kills in the third period.
Linus Ullmark was up to the task in the final 20 minutes, but got a little bit of luck from his goal posts as well. Hanley let a shot rip from the point and beat the Rochester goaltender clean, but rang the puck off the far post and missed a goal by inches.
Outside of a late Nylander chance in the slot the Amerks would not threaten the IceCaps in the third period, and Lindgren collected his fourth shutout of the season, turning away all 25 shots against.
With the series sweep over the Amerks the IceCaps move within five points of the division-leading Syracuse Crunch. The Toronto Marlies blew a 4-1 lead to the Binghamton Senators and lost 8-4, and the Albany Devils fell 2-1 to the Crunch. These losses mean the IceCaps are within striking distance of any of the top seeds in the North Division.
Perhaps the biggest news is that the Utica Comets were handed a 4-1 loss, giving the IceCaps a better position on the fourth seed. If Utica loses tomorrow to Providence their games in hand will disappear and the IceCaps will have a firm hold on a playoff position once more.
It’s a tough week ahead as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are in town on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the Hershey Bears on Saturday and Sunday. Both teams are in the mix for the crown in the AHL’s hotly contested Atlantic Division.
1. Charlie Lindgren (25 saves, shutout)
2. Josiah Didier (1 assist)
3. Linus Ullmark (27 saves)