ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The penalty shot in hockey can be a game-changing event. It was that and more for the Quad City Flames in their 4-1 win over the Rochester Americans at the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the third period, Quad City saw the Americans pull goalie Adam Dennis for an extra attacker. The Flames made a steal as Rochester tried to enter the QC zone and as the puck started the other way, Dennis jumped back on the ice to stop the play.
With the sixth skater already on, that created too many men on the ice and QC was awarded a penalty shot. Tomi Maki took the shot and beat Dennis with a slick backhander to make it 3-1 with 1:21 left in the game.
"If they get the puck in our zone with the sixth attacker on, they have great momentum," Quad City coach Ryan McGill said. "We made the play and for whatever reason their goalie jumped back on.
"Tomi has had great success in shootouts, so he was the easy choice. No doubt, that was a big goal for us."
Cam Cunning added an empty-net tally, his fifth, nearly a minute later to make it 4-1 and send QC to Hamilton for a game Friday night with a 20-18-2-5 record.
The Flames jumped on a slumping Rochester team with two goals in the first. Warren Peters beat Dennis inside the post for his ninth. Then, Grant Stevenson scored his fifth in two games and 23rd of the season on the power play later in the first.
QC appeared to have taken a 3-0 lead midway through the second when Cunning scored, but the goal was disallowed.
"He shot the puck, it went in the goal and the light was delayed coming on," McGill said. "Before the light came on, the referee blew his whistle and said he had stopped the play befor the puck went in."
The Americans took advantage and scored a power-play goal moments later to cut the lead in half.
Rochester carried that momentum into the third, outplaying QC for the first 12 or so minutes.
"Our effort was very good the first 40 minutes," McGill said. "We felt we had played better than the 2-1 lead. Then, in the third period, we got away from our work ethic and seemed to be back on our heels. You can't do that in a one-goal game.
"We survived that and went with the guys who were working the hardest for the last five minutes."
-- Nystrom back: The Flames got some good news before the game when it was announced that the Calgary Flames were sending winger Eric Nystrom to Quad City.
Nystrom started the year here, and had a goal and an assist in four games before Calgary promoted him to the NHL. In 34 games with the big club, Nystrom had a goal, four assists and 43 penalty minutes. He's been sidelined for a little over a week after taking a puck to the face.
"He's been cleared to play and he'll be in the lineup Friday (in Hamilton)," McGill said. "For the first time in a while, we'll have to make a decision on sitting a forward."
In Calgary, Nystrom was counted on as a third- or fourth-line winger and played a great deal on the penalty kill.
"We expect him to bring us the same energy and compete level they asked for in Calgary," McGill said. "The big difference will be that he can earn a lot more ice time with us."
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