Jamie Tardif and Matt MacKenzie provided the Rochester goals, while Matt Hackett stopped 26 of 29 shots in his first game back between the pipes. Matt Ellis, Johan Larsson and Colton Gilles also finished with assists in the loss for the Amerks.
Leading the way offensively for the hometown Marlies were Sam Carrick and John-Michael Liles, who each finished with a goal and an assist. Tyler Biggs rounded out the scoring for Toronto, while former Amerk goaltender Drew MacIntyre earned his league-leading 11th win of the season by stopping 25 of 27 shots he faced, including 14 of 15 in the third period.
Toronto, which maintained most of the momentum in the first period and outshot the Amerks 13-4, knotted the contest late in the frame with a shorthanded marker from Carrick. Kevin Porter’s slap-shot from the center point missed wide of the net and circled back up along the right wing boards and out of the reach of Ellis. Carrick corralled the loose puck outside the Rochester blueline and sped off on a breakaway, beating Hackett with a back-hander under the crossbar to make it a 1-1 game with 1:28 remaining in the period. It was the first shorthanded tally surrendered by the Amerks this season.
Toronto widened the gap just 2:16 later when Biggs jumped on a Brad Staubitz rebound for his second goal of the season. After steering aside Staubitz’s initial bid from the blueline, the rebound kicked out to the low slot to a waiting Biggs, who swept the puck into the empty net to give the Marlies a 3-1 cushion heading into the second intermission.
Rochester cut the deficit in half 2:46 into the third period when MacKenzie picked the upper left corner just as a penalty to Toronto’s Andrew Crescenzi was expiring. A loose-puck battle behind the Toronto net went in favor of the Amerks with Gillies emerging from the pack along the right half-wall. Gillies, getting pressured from behind, left it for MacKenzie at the top of the face-off circle and the Amerks defenseman wristed a shot through traffic that found its way past a screened MacIntyre. With the lone assist, Gillies has recorded points in each of his last three games.
With 1:07 remaining, the Amerks pulled Hackett in favor of an extra attacker and generated several quality scoring chances, including their best opportunity to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation. Ellis almost deflected a point-blank shot from Porter, while Phil Varone and Tardif both had chances of their own during a net-front scramble, but MacIntyre was able to keep everything in front of him as the Marlies held on for the 3-2 win.