ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The Rochester Americans have relied on offence most of the season but Friday it was their goaltender who stole the show.
David Leggio was nearly unbeatable, making 48 saves as the Americans defeated the Abbotsford Heat 5-2 in American Hockey League action.
Rochester is tied for the second-most goals scored in the AHL — and only six teams have allowed more goals against — but Leggio stopped the Heat's fire-power early and often in the convincing victory.
"He definitely held us in the game, early on," said Rochester's Cody Hodgson. "He was pretty incredible with some of those saves. I wish we could have done more for him so we could have got the shutout. But he was awesome."
He made 16 saves in each period, allowing just two goals in the third with the home team pressing hard, including an extended two-man advantage.
"It was a good amount of shots, but sometimes that puts you in the groove as a goaltender," said Leggio. "We did what we needed to do after a long day of travel to get a big win on the road."
And when the Heat finally got one past Leggio, his teammates got it right back 33 seconds later.
"It's a frustrating game to play," said Heat defenceman Steve McCarthy. "We obviously generated quite a few shots, and give their goalie credit, he played well. But obviously we did some things defensively, made a few mistakes and it was in the back of our net."
Kevin Porter, Brian Flynn, Zemgus Girgensons, Nick Crawford and Mark Mancari scored for Rochester (17-12-3), while Leggio picked up an assist on Girgensons' goal.
"It was a good effort from top to bottom," said Leggio. "Girgensons made a big play on the one-on-one. Mancari made a nice play to Flynn for a tip. Porter had a nice play. We had some really nice, skilled goals as well as some hard-work goals too, making it hard for (Barry) Brust to see the puck, like Crawford's goal.
"I thought we did a good job taking away Brust's eyes because he's been red-hot this year and we had to make it tough on him."
Max Reinhart and Ben Walter replied for Abbotsford (16-10-7), while Brust made 25 saves as his league-leading goals against average swelled to 1.55.
The Heat put early pressure on Rochester. Walter beat Leggio but hit the inside of the post just two minutes into the game. Then, while outshooting the Americans 11-3, Carter Bancks set up Quinton Laing at the side of the net for what looked like a tap in, but Leggio just got his stick across to stop it.
However it was Rochester, on a power play at 2:31 of the second, that scored first. Mancari's point shot through a screen of bodies was deflected by Flynn and beat Brust over the shoulder.
After a brief pushback from Abbotsford, the visitors came back to make it 2-0. Girgensons drove hard to the net and just before being knocked into the netminder by defenceman Joe Callahan he lifted the puck over Brust's glove at 7:02.
Abbotsford didn't let up. Defenceman T.J. Brodie cut hard to the slot with about four minutes to go in the second period and fooled Leggio with a high backhander, but the puck grazed the crossbar and ricocheted out of danger.
Hodgson and Marcus Foligno both went to the penalty box late in the second, but the Heat failed to convert with the two-man advantage.
"We needed to score on that five-on-three at the end of the second," said Walter. "But I thought we came out and pushed in the third, and we kept creating opportunities. We've just got to stay with it and stay positive right now."
The Heat finally beat the Americans' netminder, but did it shorthanded at 2:59 of the third. Paul Byron chipped the puck up to Reinhart and the rookie beat Leggio five-hole.
But on that same power play, the visitors restored their two-goal lead when Crawford's point shot found the back of the net. Then at 9:11 Mancari found Porter streaking to the net and hit him with a centring pass that the captain buried.
At 10:23 Walter narrowed the deficit back to two for Abbotsford, one-timing a feed from Brodie in the slot, before Mancari's empty netter finished off the scoring.
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