Weekly Syracuse Crunch Roundup
Fri., Dec. 7 — Crunch vs. Hamilton - W, 5-1
Sat., Dec. 8 — Crunch at Adirondack - SOL, 4-3
Sun., Dec. 9 — Crunch at Bridgeport - L, 7-2
Wed., Dec. 12 — Crunch vs. Binghamton, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 14 — Crunch at Adirondack, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 15 — Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton, 7:30 p.m.
Need to Know
The East Division-leading Crunch collected three of a possible six points in Week 9, their fifth three-in-three.
Tyler Johnson remains the AHL leader in goals, 15, and the Crunch leader in points, 25, fifth-most in the AHL.
Syracuse hosts Binghamton Wednesday, the first midweek home game this season, live on TWC Sports Channel.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 21: Bulldogs tamed by Crunch, 5-1
Five Crunch players had multi-point efforts as Syracuse scored three times in the first period, adding two insurance goals in the third, for a 5-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday at the War Memorial. Ondrej Palat potted his third of the year just 26 seconds into the contest-the fastest Crunch goal scored this year-with Mark Barberio and Tyler Johnson notching their first of two assists on the day, respectively. Johnson also set up the first of two Syracuse power-play goals, as Brett Connolly tied Johnson for the team lead in extra-man scores (4) and took the team lead for game-winning goals (3). Matt Taormina added the second power-play strike; Alex Killorn and P.C. Labrie tallied Syracuse's last two goals. Connolly had the primary assist on Labrie's goal, completing a two-point night after missing his first game of the season Dec. 2. Riku Helenius, making his first Friday start, collected his fourth-straight win with 19 saves.
Game 22: Adirondack captures shootout win over Syracuse, 4-3
Adirondack won a shootout, 2-1, to defeat Syracuse, 4-3, Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center and even the season series, 2-2. A back-and-forth contest began with Syracuse taking a 1-0 lead on Brett Connolly's ninth of the season at 17:47 of the first from J.T. Brown. Tye McGinn tied the game with a power play goal at 1:56 of the second. Brayden Schenn had an assist, and then scored the go-ahead goal on another power play three minutes later. Sean Couturier assisted on both goals. P.C. Labrie re-tied the game for Syracuse at 13:51 of the second, but, at 18:12, Schenn notched his third point of the day with another go-ahead goal. Fifty seconds later, Cory Conacher scored his first goal since Nov. 24 knotting the game at 3-3. Entering the third period with a tie score for the first time all season, the Crunch could not manage a winning goal. After a scoreless third and overtime, Schenn and Garrett Roe beat Tokarski in the shootout, while the Crunch hit two posts with only Ondrej Palat scoring on Scott Munroe who made 29 saves overall for the victory.
Game 23: Sound Tigers explode on Crunch, 7-2, in Bridgeport
Bridgeport snapped an eight-game winless streak, overpowering the Crunch, 7-2, Sunday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena. The seven goals-four scored against Riku Helenius, three on Dustin Tokarski in relief-are most against the Crunch this season, while five is the largest margin of defeat; Syracuse has lost by three goals three times. Syracuse could hardly solve Bridgeport goalie Anders Nilsson despite 39 shots, including a season-high 23 in the second period. Syracuse didn't get on the scoreboard until it trailed 5-0 late in the second stanza, as rookies Alex Killorn and J.T. Brown potted goals roughly a minute apart, both improving their season scoring totals to 5g-10a-15pts. Mike Angelidis and J.T. Wyman assisted on the first goal, Philip-Michael Devos and Matt Taormina on the second. Bridgeport dominated special teams, scoring a short handed goal, three power play goals and one of its three even-stregnth goals one second after a power play expired; Syracuse was fruitless on five power plays. Captain Colin McDonald paced the Sound Tigers with two goals and two assists. The Crunch next see the Sound Tigers April 12 in Syracuse for the second and final time this regular season.
Brett Connolly returned to the lineup Friday after missing his first game of the season Dec. 2 (sternum). He scored the game-winning goal Friday (his team-leading third GWG) and potted his ninth of the year Saturday (9g-11a-20pts). He has 13 points in his last 11 games.
With Connolly's 20th point Saturday, Syracuse became the first team in the AHL to have four players reach the 20-point plateau: Tyler Johnson, 25; Cory Conacher, 21; Richard Panik, 20; Connolly, 20. Only Oklahoma City and Toronto have three players with 20 points or more.
Syracuse has three of the top four plus-minus performers in the AHL: league-leading Ondrej Palat (+17), Dmitry Korobov and Tyler Johnson (+14). Radko Gudas and Richard Panik are also among the top 13 in the league (+11). Excluding the three goals Palat has scored, he's assisted on 20% of Crunch markers (16 of 81).
The Crunch collected three of six possible points in their fifth three-in-three of the season in Week 9. In the 15 contests comprising those three-in-threes, Syracuse is 10-4-0-1. The Crunch are 3-2 in the first game of three-in-three weekends (Fridays), 4-0-0-1 on Saturdays and 3-2 on Sundays. Syracuse will not play another three-in-three until Week 18 (Feb. 8-10), followed by Week 21 (Mar. 1-3) and Week 28 (Apr. 19-21).
The Crunch lead the AHL in goals per game at 3.65, with 84 goals in 23 contests. They are 13th in goals-against average at 2.91, allowing 67 goals.
Allowing five power play goals in 18 chances in Week 9, Syracuse's penalty kill standing has dropped to fifth in the AHL at 86.4% (114-for-132). The power play has sunk to 15th in the league at 16.3% (20-for-123).
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch vs. Binghamton Senators—Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.
Syracuse faces Binghamton for the fourth time this year, trailing the season series, 1-2-0-0. The Crunch won 6-5 in overtime Oct. 20 at Binghamton, the largest combeack in franchise history, but the Senators responded with wins, 2-1, in Syracuse Nov. 23 and, 5-2, in Binghamton Dec. 2. The Senators trail the Crunch by three points for the East Division lead, but they have three games in hand. Binghamton had won nine straight until losing Saturday, 3-1, vs. Norfolk. Jacob Silfverberg leads the B-Sens in scoring (7g-8a-15pts) while Robin Lehner is among the league's leading goaltenders at 8-3-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average, third best in the AHL. Stephane Da Costa had a hat trick and an assist in the last meeting with Syracuse, while Tyler Johnson has five points (1g, 4a) vs. Binghamton. The Senators only other game in Week 10 is at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday.
Crunch at Adirondack Phantoms—Friday, 7:00 p.m.
Syracuse meets the Phantoms for the second time in a week and fifth time this season Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center, where the Crunch lost in a shootout last Saturday. Syracuse has points in all four meetings (2-0-1-1) with Adirondack, but committed costly penalties in the two Phantoms wins leading to four power play goals. The Flyers' AHL affiliate is fourth in the Northeast Division with 21 points, 13th in the Eastern Conference after losing at Providence. 3-2, Sunday. Brayden Schenn (11g-15a-26pts), Sean Couturier (7g-13a-20pts) and Eric Gustafsson (3g-11a-14pts) are the top weapons for Adirondack, each of whom has done damage against Syracuse, combining for 18 points vs. the Crunch in four games. After facing Syracuse, the Phantoms host Manchester Saturday.
Crunch vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins—Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Syracuse plays its second East Division matchup of the weekend, trying to fend off the WBS Penguins who've won two of three meetings with the Crunch, including a 5-3 decision Nov. 30 in Wilkes-Barre. The Pens are tied with Binghamton for second in the East Division at 28 points in 22 games. The Penguins' special teams have been strong with the league's second-best penalty kill (89.3%) to go along with an 11th-ranked power play (17.6%), which is even better on the road (19.2%). Goalie Jeff Zatkoff was the AHL's netminder of November, now with a 2.00 goals-against average and 10 wins, second most in the AHL. Rookie Beau Bennett leads the Pens in scoring with 19 points (5g, 14a). Wilkes-Barre/Scranton visits Albany Wednesday and hosts Binghamton Friday before coming to Syracuse Saturday.