Amerks force Game 7, Phantoms win in 3OT

Rochester posted a wild 7-5 win over Syracuse on Wednesday night, tying the teams’ North Division semifinal series at three games apiece and setting up a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Syracuse on Saturday.

The Crunch took an early two-goal lead when Joe Motzko and Tim Jackman scored 70 seconds apart in the first period.

Facing elimination, the Amerks rebounded, tying the score midway through the second period and taking their first lead of the night on a Derek Roy tally with 30 seconds left in the stanza.

Chris Thorburn made it 4-2 in favor of Rochester just 27 seconds into the third, setting off a wild final 20 minutes that saw seven goals scored.

Shawn Limpright and Trent Cull scored 39 seconds apart to tie the score at 4-4, but Doug Janik needed only 35 seconds after that to put the Amerks back in front.

Aaron Johnson‘s power play goal pulled the Crunch back even at 5-5, but again Rochester struck quickly, with Norm Milley scoring what would be the game-winning goal with 6:14 left in regulation. Chris Taylor capped a four-point night with an empty-netter in the final second.

Taylor finished with a goal and three assists, Milley had two goals and an assist and Jason Botterill recorded three assists for the Amerks. Motzko led the Crunch with a goal and two assists.

Tom Askey, who pitched a shutout in Game 5, gave up five goals on 27 shots for Rochester but still earned the win. Pascal Leclaire made 26 saves in the loss for Syracuse.

Game 7 is Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial, as the Amerks attempt to become just the 12th team in AHL history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a Calder Cup Playoff series.

Just before the stroke of midnight, B.J. Abel scored the winning goal at the 13:02 mark of the third overtime period, giving Philadelphia a 2-1 win over Norfolk and a 3-1 series lead in their East Division semifinal.

Abel’s goal ended the eighth-longest game in AHL history.

The clubs traded power-play goals in the first period before playing scoreless hockey for more than 93 minutes.

Antero Niittymaki made 49 saves and lowered his goals-against average to 0.99 in the series. Craig Anderson was the hard-luck loser despite stopping 54 shots.

Alexandre Giroux broke a scoreless tie 65 seconds into the third period and opened the floodgates as Hartford posted a 4-0 win over Portland on Wednesday night and advanced to the Atlantic Division finals. The Wolf Pack will take on Worcester in the next round, beginning Friday night at the Hartford Civic Center.

Jason LaBarbera finished with 30 saves for his second shutout of the series, and captain Ken Gernander recorded a goal and an assist during the Pack’s four-goal third period.

Hartford won the series, four games to one.

Giroux’s goal was followed by tallies from Jamie Pushor and Chad Wiseman 37 seconds apart.

Maxime Ouellet suffered the loss in net for the Pirates, finishing with 27 saves.

Cincinnati moved closer to one of the biggest upsets in Calder Cup Playoff history with a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in Game 5.

The Mighty Ducks have a 3-2 series lead as the teams return to Milwaukee’s Bradley Center on Friday.

Tony Martensson continued his hot postseason pace with a goal and an assist, giving him 12 points in seven playoff games.

Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 36 saves for Cincinnati, including 29 over the final two periods.