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Albany Shuts Down Rochester 3-0

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Dwight Helminen had a goal and an assist to back Justin Peters' 23-save effort in leading the River Rats past Rochester at the former Knickerbocker Arena.

It was Peters second shutout of the season, but first in a winning effort. He was credited with a shutout in a 1-0 shootout loss Nov. 22 in Syracuse.

In winning its second straight game heading into the four-day AHL all-star break, Albany cashed in on two of four power-play attempts, and went 5-for-12 on the man advantage in the two victories. Meanwhile, the Rats have also killed off 13 straight power plays against, including all five tonight.

Michael Ryan snapped a shot from the right circle through the screen of center Nick Dodge for his team-high 23rd goal 5:13 into the game. Jerome Samson made it 2-0 when his wrister deflected off the shoulder of Amerks goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu, floated back and landed in the net.

Helminen batted the rebound of Bryan Rodney's shot out of mid-air for a power-play goal 4:21 into the third period. It was Helminen's first goal in 14 games -- since getting two in a 3-2 win over Rochester here on Dec. 27.

Peters was busiest in the second period, when the Rats were outshot, 11-4.

The Rats return to action in Norfolk on Jan. 29. Their next "home" game is Feb. 7 vs. Portland at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but they do not have a game in Albany until Feb. 13 vs. Springfield.

Rochester 0 0 0

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A shorter version tonight, since I have to go home and pack before making the drive to Worcester tomorrow morning for the all-star festivities. Should be fun, and there's even a media game on Monday morning this year. It's been a while since I strapped on the gear (dug it out of the cellar today). Should be interesting.

The River Rats met a different kind of challenge tonight, responding from Friday's emotional 4-1 win over Binghamton with an equally solid, workmanlike 3-0 shutout over Rochester. The win moved Albany four points ahead of last place Norfolk in the East Division, and the Rats can add some distance and possibly gain some ground immediately after the all-star break. They return with three road games in three days, the first two in Norfolk Jan. 29 and 30.

"Obviously after two wins, you want to keep it going," head coach Jeff Daniels said. "We're still a little banged up, so it we'll get some guys some time off, and then it's right back at it. We're back to work in Norfolk for two big games, and then in Philly, and I think that's Philly's first game (from the break). They'll be rested and ready to go, but we'll focus on Norfolk first. These four days off will be good. We'll be busy with three games and then we're off for another six days, so it's kind of a funny schedule."

Justin Peters made 23 saves for his second shutout this season, but first in a winning effort. Gotta love the AHL. Peters was credited with a shutout in a 1-0 shootout loss Nov. 22 in Syracuse, stopping all 44 shots he faced in regulation and overtime. However, it doesn't go down as a team shutout, so this was the Rats first of the season.

Peters had a rare chance to add a goal to his resume midway through the third period. Rochester pulled goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu to start a power play for a 6-on-4 skater advantage, but leaving the net wide open for the Rats, free to ice the puck on the penalty kill. In theory, Peters could have stopped a dump-in behind his net, wheeled and took aim at the opposite end, but never got othe chance. Beckford-Tseu went back in his net halfway through the advantage.

"Obviously, it's exciting stuff," Peters said. "They rimmed the puck once, but it was too close. I was just playing everything safe. At any point, you don't want to be messing around."

Captain Tim Conboy, who scored a 180-foot empty-net goal here Jan. 17 for his first goal of the season, would have cleared the way for Peters.

"Stranger things have happened," Conboy said. "I scored one from there. I guess if I can do it, he can do it. He's got a bigger paddle than me, too."

Dwight Helminen had a goal and assist, Michael Ryan continued his hot hand with his team-high 23rd goal in the first period (the winner), and Jerome Samson got one in his 100th career AHL game. For Helminen, it was his first goal in 14 games, since netting a pair in a 3-2 win over Rochester here on Dec. 27.

Rochester questioned that Helminen scored his goal, batted out of mid-air, with a high stick, but referee Francois St. Laurent (who will be officiating Monday's all-star game) immediately and emphatically ruled it good. He even stood silently at the Rochester bench as Amerks coach Benoit Groulx angrily argued his point. Wonder if it was all in French.

There was one comical moment late in the first period, when Albany's Brad Herauf and Rochester's Neil Clark squared off to fight. When they came together at center ice, Clark grabbed Herauf's sweater and pulled it right over his head. It seems the tie-down (attached to the hockey pants to keep jerseys in place) broke, and Clark was left standing with a handful of Rowdy, which he handed to the linesman. Herauf was originally given a 10-minute misconduct, but the penalty was later rescinded. (It used to be that losing a jersey in a fight was grounds for a game misconduct and ejection).

On a final note, tonight's game was Albany's last at the old Knick until Feb. 13 vs. Springfield. Its next "home" game is Feb. 7 in Glens Falls against Portland.


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