Weekly Crunch Roundup
Fri., Nov. 30 — Crunch at W-B/Scranton - L, 5-3
Sat., Dec. 1 — Crunch at Connecticut - W, 4-3 OT
Sun., Dec. 2 — Crunch at Binghamton - L, 5-2
Fri., Dec. 7 — Crunch vs. Hamilton, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 8 — Crunch at Adirondack, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 9 — Crunch at Bridgeport, 3:00 p.m.
Need to Know
Syracuse remains atop the Eastern Conference at 13-5-1-1, 28 points, the best start in team history.
Tyler Johnson leads the Crunch in points (23) and the entire AHL in goals (15).
After five road games, the Crunch are home Friday vs. Hamilton, then visiting Adirondack and Bridgeport.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 18: Crunch battle from behind, fall short in Wilkes-Barre
The Penguins handed the Crunch their first regulation road loss of the year, 5-3, Friday in Wilkes-Barre, snapping Syracuse's nine-game road win streak. The Pens started strong, scoring at 3:09 of the first with former Syracuse and Norfolk center Trevor Smith potting his sixth. Richard Panik tied the game with a four-on-four goal with a minute left in the opening frame, but the Penguins scored two more in the second period and one early in the third for a 4-1 lead. Brett Connolly and Philip-Michael Devos got the Crunch within one with goals at 10:45 and 17:23 of the third, but an empty net goal from Smith sealed the 5-3 win for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Crunch allowed 30+ shots on goal for the first time, as Dustin Tokarski made 32 saves. Jeff Zatkoff stopped 23 of 26 Crunch shots in the win. The Crunch allowed two power play goals, having surrendered only two over the previous 40 chances. Devos's tally was Syracuse's lone power play strike in seven opportunities.
Game 19: Riveting comeback capped by Barberio's OT game-winner
Syracuse pulled off a thrilling comeback Saturday with three goals in the third period-erasing a 3-0 deficit-and one in overtime to win, taking the first bout with Connecticut, 4-3. The Whale scored a goal in each period, including the game's first tally from Christian Thomas, the son of Crunch assistant coach Steve Thomas. Tyler Johnson got Syracuse on the board at 6:37 of the third with his 14th of the year and Richard Panik scored the next two-at 12:45 from Philip-Michael Devos and 13:20 unassisted-to tie the score, 3-3. In overtime, Cory Conacher created a turnover in the neutral zone and set up Mark Barberio high in the slot for a one-time blast and the game-winning goal, Barberio's fourth of the season and first game-winner. Both goalies were exceptional, as Riku Helenius stopped 24 shots in his fifth victory while Cameron Talbot made 42 saves in defeat.
Game 20: Bout in Binghamton won by Sens
Though not the overwhelming 153 combined penalty minutes from their Oct. 20 meeting, Syracuse and Binghamton totaled 68 PIMs on 28 infractions Sunday, a match won by the Sens, 5-2. Both J.P. Cote and Eric Neilson were assessed misconduct penalties. Syracuse allowed its opponent to score first for the third consecutive game, and though Tyler Johnson's shorthanded goal tied the game in the first period, Syracuse never managed to get ahead. Shane Da Costa, playing in his first game since November 3, recorded a hat trick and an assist for the Sens who took a 3-1 lead in the second period. Danick Gauthier scored his second of the year by splitting defenders and sneaking a backhand shot between Ben Bishop and the right post, but Binghamton scored two insurance goals in the third to seal their eighth straight win. Dustin Tokarski suffered the loss, facing 38 shots, the most Syracuse has allowed this season. The Sens now lead the season series with Syracuse, 2-1.
The Week 9 schedule has the Crunch playing their fifth three-in-three of the season, (three games in three days). Syracuse will not play another three-in-three until Week 18 (Feb. 8-10). The team's seventh and final three-in-three of the regular season is Week 21 (Mar. 1-3).
Following a two-goal weekend, Tyler Johnson leads the AHL with 15 goals-two more than any other player. Though his six-game scoring streak was snapped Friday, Johnson has seven points in the last five games. For the season, the Spokane native leads Syracuse with 23 points, tied for third most in the AHL. Averaging a goal in three of every four games, Johnson is on pace to score 57 goals.
Richard Panik had his 12-game scoring streak ended Sunday in Binghamton. No one else in the AHL has strung together a streak longer than nine games this season. The streak-spanning Nov. 2-Dec. 1-produced 17 points (10g, 7a) and vaulted Panik into the AHL's top 15 scorers with 20 on the season (second most on the Crunch).
Syracuse had its franchise-record nine-game road winning streak snapped Friday in Wilkes-Barre. The best such streak in the AHL was four short of the league's single-season record (13).
Continuing the best start in franchise history, the 2012-13 Crunch completed the first quarter (19 games) with a .737 points percentage. That mark edges the previous high of .675 from the first quarter of 2008-09 (20 games).
With a plus-3 Saturday in Hartford, Ondrej Palat improved his season plus-minus to plus-15, the highest mark in the AHL. Led by Palat, the Crunch have five of the top-thirteen plus-minus performers in the league: Dmitry Korobov (+14), Tyler Johnson (+13), Richard Panik and Radko Gudas (+10).
Syracuse had denied opponents 30 shots on goal in each of the first 17 games of the season (twice allowing 29)but Friday Wilkes-Barre got 36 pucks on net and Sunday Binghamton amassed 38 shots on goal.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch vs. Hamilton Bulldogs—Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Syracuse hosts the Hamilton Bulldogs for the first time this season, having defeated the Canadiens' AHL affiliate twice in November: 3-0 in Hamilton and 4-1 in Montreal. The Bulldogs are 7-9-1-1 in the Western Conference's North Division and their 16 points are second fewest in the AHL. Hamilton has three wins in its last ten games, but pulled off a 3-0 victory against the AHL's winningest team, the Abbotsford Heat, Saturday. Cedrick Desjardins made 24 saves in the shutout, his third victory in four appearances for Hamilton this season. Brendan Gallagher leads the Bulldogs with 11 points (6g, 5a) while Steve Quailer scored the lone goal vs. Syracuse Nov. 9.
Crunch at Adirondack Phantoms—Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
The Crunch take on the Phantoms for the fourth time this year, leading the season series, 2-1. The Phantoms stunned the Crunch at the War Memorial Oct. 28 in overtime, 4-3, but Syracuse won 4-1 Nov. 2 in Glens Falls and 5-2 at home Nov. 17. Since then, Adirondack has played six straight games at home, winning the first three and losing the last three. Brayden Schenn is the Phantoms leading scorer; his 22 points (9g, 13a) in 20 games are tied for fifth most in the AHL and his 77 shots are one short of the league lead. In net, Scott Munroe is 6-5-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average. Zac Rinaldo has 41 penalty minutes in the last seven games and has the second-most minor penalties in the AHL. The Phantoms visit Rochester Friday before hosting the Crunch Saturday and visiting Providence Sunday.
Crunch at Bridgeport Sound Tigers—Sunday, 3:00 p.m.
The Crunch visit Bridgeport Sunday afternoon for the first of two meetings with the Sound Tigers this regular season. The New York Islanders' AHL affiliate lost all three of its games in Week 8: 5-2 at Hershey, 4-3 in a shootout vs. Worcester and 4-1 vs. Norfolk. Now at 10-9-0-1, the Sound Tigers are second in the Northeast Division and their 19 points are ninth most in the Eastern Conference. Nino Niederreiter leads Bridgeport with 20 points (10g, 10a) while rookies Brock Nelson and Johan Sundstrom have compiled 16 and 12 points, respectively. Kevin Poulin has been the team's busiest goalie, appearing in 12 of the club's 20 games with a 6-5-1 record and a 3.37 goals-against average. Anders Nilsson is 4-3 with a 3.22 goals-against average. The Sound Tigers visit the Connecticut Whale Wednesday and the Albany Devils Saturday before returning home for the Crunch Sunday.