The Belleville Senators playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread after a 4-2 loss to the Rochester Americans Sunday at CAA Arena.
Belleville’s Logan Brown and Jack Rodewald scored while Marcus Hogberg made 25 saves. In his first professional start, Ukko-Pekka Luukkanen stopped 32 shots while Taylor Leier (2), Tage Thompson and Casey Fitzgerald scored.
The loss now means that Belleville needs Cleveland to lose in regulation in Toronto to make the playoffs. If the Monsters collect a point, they will claim the final playoff spot in the North Division.
Brown gave Belleville an early 1-0 lead at 6:44 as he took a Drake Batherson feed from the left goal line before firing past Luukkanen for his 14th of the year from the slot.
But the Amerks responded through Leier, who hit the post in the opening 20 seconds of the game, as on the power play he spun down low and beat Hogberg low by sliding the puck under his pad at 10:29.
Leier’s second of the night at 13:37 also came on the power play as he spun down low and slid the puck under Hogberg’s left pad for a 2-1 Rochester lead.
Belleville found its equalizer 2:16 into the second period through Rodewald as on the power play he beat Luukkonen glover side up-high for his 23rd of the year.
However, the visitors found the lead again with 5:35 left in the second on their third power play goal of the afternoon as Thompson wired a one-timer from the left faceoff circle off of Kurt Gosselin pass for a 3-2 lead after Chase Balisy had been penalized.
After Brown hit the post midway through the third, Rochester pushed its lead to 4-2 with 8:46 left in regulation as Fitzgerald scored his first pro goal on a slap shot.