The Amerks have gone winless in their last nine games, most recently falling 4-2 Friday to the Toronto Marlies. Rochester's parent club, the Buffalo Sabres, depleted the Amerks by calling up both netminders – Nathan Lieuwen and Matt Hackett – due to injuries to Sabres starters Jhonas Enroth and Michael Neuvirth.
That's left Andrey Makarov and Rochester native Connor Knapp to share time in goal. Makarov has gotten the last three starts and stands at 0-3-0 on the year with a 2.72 GAA and .919 save percentage. Knapp is winless in his only two starts, posting a 4.03 GAA and .873 save percentage.
Phil Varone leads the Amerks with 51 points on 14 goals and 37 assists. Luke Adam is their leading goal-scorer with 27. Four Amerks regulars – Nick Deslauriers, Johan Larsson, Chad Ruhwedel and Rasmus Ristolainen – are also in Buffalo filling injury gaps.
The Amerks now stand at 30-27-6-4, good for 70 points. That's 16 points behind the Marlies in the AHL North Division and tied for 10 in the Western Conference with Oklahoma City. They're three points behind Rockford and Charlotte, which each have 73 points and are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot. So if the Amerks' season ended today, they would not make the playoffs.
"You've got to play through it. That's all you can do. The only thing we can control is our effort. We've got to make sure we're the hardest-working team every night we're out on the ice," coach Chadd Cassidy said after Friday's loss. "It's still going to be hard when we get guys back (from injury) … right now, we've got to find a way to put ourselves over the hump."
The Amerks begin their last month of the regular season with a 7:05 p.m. home game Wednesday at the Blue Cross Arena. They have nine games left.
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