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Weekly Crunch Roundup

Monday, 03.04.2013 / 5:05 PM / Features
By Peter Pupello  - Lightning Beat Reporter

Last Week

Tue., Feb. 26 - Crunch at Rochester - W, 4-1

Fri., Mar. 1 - Crunch vs. Albany - L, 3-1

Sat., Mar. 2 - Crunch vs. Rochester - OTL, 2-1

Sun., Mar. 3 - Crunch at Hershey - L, 5-3

This Week

Wed., Mar. 6 - Crunch at Toronto, 11:00 a.m.

Fri., Mar. 8 - Crunch at St. John's, 6:00 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 9 - Crunch at St. John's, 6:00 p.m.

Need to Know

- Syracuse's season-best, eight-game win streak-the second longest in the AHL this year-was snapped Friday.

- The Crunch lead the East Division and are tied with Springfield for most points in the Eastern Conference, 75.

- A stretch of four road games continues Wednesday in Toronto, concluding Friday and Saturday in St. John's.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 54: Crunch win streak hits eight against Amerks

Syracuse’s season-long win streak continued with a 4-1 win Tuesday over Rochester, the team's second win vs. the Amerks on the year. Ondrej Palat’s natural hat trick provided most of the offense for the Crunch. He one-timed a Tyler Johnson feed halfway through the first period to start the scoring. Then, he added a power-play tally five minutes later. Nobody scored again until Palat buried a Johnson rebound early in the third period to give Syracuse a 3-0 lead. Rochester center Nick Tarnasky ended Syracuse goalie Cedrick Desjardin’s shutout with a power-play goal with 1:35 left. Desjardins stopped 25 of 26 shots faced for his fourth straight win. The penalty kill unit stopped four of five chances. With two assists, Johnson became the AHL’s top scorer with 55 points.

Game 55: Syracuse offense struggles in loss to Albany

The Crunch’s win streak ended at eight with a 3-1 loss to the Devils Friday at the War Memorial. Syracuse’s offense threatened early, but Mark Barberio and Philip-Michael Devos hit posts and Albany goalie Jeff Frazee stole multiple Crunch chances. The first two periods were scoreless. Halfway through the third frame, Albany’s Chris McKelvie finished a rebound to put the Devils up 1-0. A minute later, Darcy Zajac beat an out-of-position Cedrick Desjardins to double the lead. The Crunch battled back with 2:15 left when Tyler Johnson set up Brett Connolly’s 23rd goal of the season. Syracuse couldn’t bury the tying goal and allowed an empty-netter to Zajac. Desjardins finished with 23 saves, while Frazee held off the Crunch with 37 stops.

Game 56: Crunch fall late in overtime to Americans

Syracuse allowed a goal with 9.8 seconds left in overtime to lose 2-1 to Rochester Saturday. The Americans had the first goal of the game halfway through the first period. Mark Mancari buried a power-play point shot past the Crunch’s Riku Helenius for a 1-0 lead. Syracuse had no answer until 1:18 into the third period. Ondrej Palat found twine off a power-play wrister from the left circle. In overtime, the Crunch failed to convert on an extra-man opportunity. Then, defenseman Mark Barberio took a hooking penalty to give Rochester a power-play chance. Amerks defenseman Brayden McNabb, set up by Mancari, won the game with a right-circle shot that beat Helenius. Syracuse finished 1-for-5 on the power play while giving up two extra-man goals for the first time since Feb. 2, also against Rochester. Helenius saved 24 shots in the loss, snapping a four-game personal win streak.

Game 57: Syracuse loses to Hershey for first time this season

The Crunch dropped the cap to a three-in-three weekend with a 5-3 loss Sunday in Hershey. In the first ten minutes, Jon DiSalvatore gave the Bears a 1-0 lead, but former Bear Kyle Wilson tied the game for Syracuse. Tyler Johnson scored his league-leading 29th goal to give Syracuse a 2-1 lead with 35 seconds left in the opening frame. Evan Oberg added his first of the year less than 2:00 into the second to give Syracuse a 3-1 lead, chasing starting netminder Dany Sabourin. From there, Hershey scored four unanswered goals for the win. Jeff Taffe scored the first two to tie the game at three. He also had two assists. Cameron Schilling had the game-winner for the Bears, finishing a sloppy goal after a scrum in front of the net. Syracuse goalie Cedrick Desjardins allowed five goals on 19 shots in the loss. The Crunch’s penalty kill was 3-for-3 in the loss, but the power play was 0-for-2. Syracuse is 3-1-0-0 against Hershey on the season.

Transactions

03/03/2013 Ondrej Palat (LW) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

03/01/2013 Richard Panik (RW) ADD Returned on loan from Tampa Bay (NHL)

02/27/2013 Brendan Mikkelson (D) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

02/27/2013 Charles Landry (D) DEL Reassigned by Tampa Bay (NHL) to Florida (ECHL)

02/27/2013 Pierre-Cedric Labrie (LW) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

02/26/2013 Matt Taormina (D) ADD Returned on loan from Tampa Bay (NHL)

Notes

- Tyler Johnson's 29 goals are most in the AHL and two shy of his 2011-12 regular season total, 31, in 75 games. Teammate Cory Conacher led the AHL last season with 39. Johnson's 55 points are second in the AHL behind 57 from Grand Rapids' Gustav Nyquist. Johnson finished seventh last year with 68 points.

- Ondrej Palat has five goals and eight assists (13 points) in his last eight games and was rewarded with his first career call to the NHL Monday. The 21-year-old is third on the Crunch with 44 points (11g, 33a).

- The Crunch had zero fights in Week 21's four games. Syracuse is 14-6-2-1 (0.674) in games without fighting majors, 20-10-1-3 (0.647) in games with at least one fight and 14-7-1-1 (0.652) when there are two fights or more.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Crunch at Toronto—Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.

The Crunch travel to Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto for the first and only time this season Wednesday to face the Marlies of the Western Conference. It’s the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Syracuse beat Toronto 4-3 in a shootout Feb. 20 at the War Memorial. The Marlies are in the middle of a ten-game home stand, hosting Abbotsford Saturday and Peoria Sunday.

With a win on Sunday, the Marlies are 4-4-0-2 in their last ten games to move to 29-19-2-4 on the season. With 64 points, Toronto is in first place in the North Division and third place in the Western Conference.

The Marlies are led by left wing Ryan Hamilton (23g-13a-36pts), center Joe Colborne (9g-22a-31pts), and defenseman Jake Gardiner (10g-16a-26pts). Three goalies have seen action for Toronto in the past eight games. Drew MacIntyre has played in five of the last eight games, and has won his last two starts, saving 55 of 57 shots and earning CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors. Mark Owuya played in goal for the Marlies against the Crunch and picked up the shootout loss after giving up three goals with 32 saves.

For the Crunch, seven players recorded a point in the win against the Marlies, and only Ondrej Palat had more than one point. Riku Helenius got the win in net for Syracuse against Toronto, his first shootout game of the season, stopping three of five shooters.

Crunch at St. John's—Friday & Saturday, 6:00 p.m.

Syracuse travels to Newfoundland for back-to-back games against the IceCaps starting Friday. It’s the first time in the regular season the Crunch will visit St. John’s; the Crunch played preseason games in three different Newfoundland towns during training camp, winning all three. The Crunch and IceCaps split the first two matches, both in Syracuse. St. John’s erased a 4-0 deficit in a 5-4 OT win Dec. 29 then the Crunch won 6-3 Jan. 26, a contest featuring a fight between the starting goaltenders Dustin Tokarski and Eddie Pasquale. Syracuse outscored St. John’s 4-0 after the fight.

The IceCaps are winless in their past four contests (0-3-0-1) and are 2-7-0-1 in their last ten. With just 50 points, the IceCaps are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. The IceCaps enter the weekend with a 9-16-1-2 record at home, tied with the Albany Devils for the fewest home wins in the AHL; St. John’s has played three more home games than have the Devils. St. John’s is in the midst of a six-game home stand, but their only games this week are the two against Syracuse.

St. John’s is led by left wing Jason Jaffray (12g-21a-33pts), center Eric O'Dell (18g-14a-32pts), and center Kael Mouillierat (7g-21a-28pts). Eddie Pasquale has played 38 games in goal for the IceCaps. On the season, he’s 14-20-3 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

Among active Crunch players, Richard Panik and Mark Barberio both have the most points vs. St. John's, three. Riku Helenius was involved in both decisions, earning a win in relief allowing no goals, and surrendering all five goals in the loss.