Never say die.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the OT win. The goal support came late, but whenever it comes it's always a beautiful thing.
SYR Paradis, (5) (Namestnikov, Mormina), 7:16
UTI O'Reilly, (4) , 12:26 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (5) (Korobov, DiSalvatore), 16:44 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (5) (Lain), 11:39
UTI Friesen, (6) (Biega, Welsh), 18:27 (PP)
UTI Kennedy, (1) (O'Reilly), 9:44
UTI Welsh, (5) (Friesen, Sauve), 10:49
SYR Namestnikov, (18) (Paradis, Paquette), 18:21
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Connolly, Gourde), 18:52 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Paquette, Angelidis), 19:07 (SH)
SYR Connolly, (19) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 2:36
You could watch 76 AHL games a year for the rest of your life and not see what happened tonight again. In pro hockey, having a 3 goal deficit at anytime in the Third Period should be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes left in the Third Period should absolutely be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes and having a man in the box for most of that time really, really should be a death sentence. The Syracuse Crunch scored 3 straight extra attacker goals late in the Third Period tonight to force Overtime. Two of those goals were technically shorthanded. Coach Gordon Bombay just called from Hollywood and even he thinks the plot tonight was implausible and ludicrous. That is not supposed to happen. Ever. There must not be a rock big or heavy enough for Utica to crawl under right now, because Syracuse bent the laws of time and space to find a way to win that game tonight. Wow.
With the win, Syracuse moves to 1 game under .500 with 6 left to play. After winning tonight the way they did, who in their right mind would bet against them to get on the right side of .500 before the year's complete?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch pass a gut check.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout victory. That's the 5th shutout of his rookie campaign and he's 4 games above .500 with a save percentage than has risen to .909. Those are especially impressive numbers given where the Crunch currently are in the standings.
SYR Rankin, (13) (Korobov, Marchessault), 6:25 (PP)
SYR Connolly, (17) (Nesterov, Paradis), 2:34 (PP)
SYR Paradis, (4) (Angelidis), 4:24
After an embarrassing 4-game losing streak where the Crunch hardly looked like a competitive AHL team, they showed some pride today to strike back for the 3-0 victory. Now, granted Adirondack is in dead last in the Eastern Conference. But, this is a team the Crunch should beat if they apply themselves and they applied themselves to the task today. That's something they definitely needed.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Lightning hit a fork in the road.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Unlike Phoenix, there's not a lot I would fault Bishop for. Lots of deflection goals and one breakaway goal. Oh, and Killorn deciding to go Clint Dempsey into his own cage.
14:58 LA Kopitar (6), (Doughty, Williams)
16:49 LA Frattin (2), (Voynov, Stoll)(PP)
2:38 LA Williams (8), (Doughty, Kopitar)
15:08 LA King (7), (Vey)(SH)
16:17 TB Filppula (9), (Hedman, St. Louis)(PP)
17:15 LA Brown (4), (Frattin)
1:22 TB Hedman (4), (Johnson)
That was a pretty disgraceful effort to put out on the ice for your captain's 1,000th NHL game. And, no, I'm not talking about the Kings' first 3 goals, 1 of which was a perfect shot, 1 of which was a perfect (lucky) deflection, and 1 of which Killorn kicked into his own net. Those things happen. What had to leave Marty lingering on the bench muttering to himself after the game was how poorly the team responded after that adversity. 9 shots on goal through 40 minutes was piss poor, especially considering how shaky Scrivens looked at times. When you compound that by not putting forth the effort on the first half of a 4 minute power play, leading to a SH goal against, and a horrendous Connolly turnover leading to the Kings' 5th goal, that's how you allow a few bad breaks to snowball into a catastrophe. And I suspect I know what Marty is thinking: if you hustle and if you don't make soft, unforced errors at your blue line, you get out of that period down 3-1, possibly. Then Hedman's semi-soft goal on Scrivens early in the Third Period would've meant something and the Lightning's push in the final frame would've been to steal a point against a quality opponent rather than to try to avoid the inevitable wrath of a Head Coach that hates to lose even more than he likes to win. Now the Lightning have dropped their first consecutive games of the season with another tough game coming up, and they're at a fork in the road. The question is, are they going to cave in here or are they going to put the effort in to stay competitive? That's what I want to see right now. The result is obviously the big thing, but let's start with the building blocks of making sure that the team doesn't look comatose for 40 minutes of a game.
Radko Gudas had 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:18.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and 3 shots in 17:56. He was also 39% on draws. He was a big part of the push the Lightning put on in the Third Period and he nearly snuck one past Scrivens in the First Period.
Alex Killorn was -3 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 12:01. He and Brett Connolly were a waste receptacle conflagration tonight. I see stupid offensive zone penalties. I see sloppiness with the puck. I see very little being generated on the forecheck. I see why his ice time took a nose dive. That line needs to be broken up and Connolly may need to sit a game in the stands to think about what occurred tonight. And, Killorn may need a turn on a checking line to get reoriented on playing a simple game.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:39. Another decent night on the PK and he was helpful with his fellow kid liners in the Third Period garbage time push.
J.T. Brown was -2 with 2 blocked shots in 13:04. His line did precious little at even strength, which isn't a direct reflection on his play, but you'd like him to really be the first man in on that line with Filppula and Purcell. I understand all the early penalties really hampered the ability of that unit to get into the flow, though.
Dmitry Korobov had 1 hit in 13:04 in his NHL debut. It was a mixed bag for Dmitry. I thought he had a pretty solid little First Period at both ends. He looked pretty good under duress in his own end moving the puck out of trouble and he threw a puck toward the net (uncredited by the scorers) that led to one of the few opportunities for the Lightning in the opening frame. He got less ice time in the Second Period because of all the special teams play and a little extended Third Period garbage time against a little more quality opponents. And, that was about what I would expect from Dmitry. He put a big pop on Dustin Brown along the boards and had a nice long pass to spring an offensive chance on the positive side of the coin. On the negative side, he made an odd unforced error (Korobov does it 1-2 times a game in my experience, a la a young Kubina) to move the puck to an open point in his own end where a Kings defenseman was waiting to pounce and there was one wide rush where his slow footwork was slightly exposed. I'd say it wasn't a big net positive or negative game for Dmitry's stock. But, that said, I felt he showed he's certainly better under duress in his own end than Barberio and that he has more two-way game than Aulie ever dreamed of having. So, there's something to work with there, warts and all.
Richard Panik was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:53. Would've been nice for the kid line to get one during that Third Period push for their confidence.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was -1 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 8:44. I have no idea why he exists right now. He had one or two good forechecking shifts, but that doesn't offset his skating liabilities defensively, and you'll have a hard time explaining to me why Malone is running around trying to start fights when a game is out of hand like that but Labrie isn't. His whole role is supposed to be to spark the team on a night when they're flat like they were tonight, and he just didn't do anything. Again. He seems like a genuinely nice person and he's a great story. But, if the Lightning are down 4 goals and flat as a pancake, he needs to be challenging the other team's entire bench to a fight. Period. Or, he's no use to anybody. And, if that's the way it's going to be, I'd just as soon see his spot filled by someone like Philippe Paradis who might actually do something to light a fire under the butts of his teammates. I'm not saying it to be mean. The trigger has no heart, and Labrie needs some tough love right now because it feels like he's got a bit of role/identity crisis right now.
Crunch waste a chance to get 2 points.
SYR Tyrell, (1) (Korobov, Rankin), 1:24
BNG Grant, (1) , 3:35 (SH)
SYR Tyrell, (2) , 15:41 (SH)
SYR Rankin, (1) (Angelidis), 18:58
BNG Cowick, (1) (Ceci), 6:42
BNG Zibanejad, (1) (Wideman), 9:13 (PP)
BNG Ceci, (1) (Petersson), 2:13
Dana Tyrell was the game's second star, leading an excellent effort by some of the veteran guys. The team also got excellent physical contributions from guys like Philippe Paradis, as well. It won't take long for the younger guys to adjust and start chipping in, too. As it is, though, it still hurts to squander a 2 goal lead in the final frame. Syracuse gets a week to stew on it until their home opener against Rochester.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse's 4th liners help put up a touchdown on the Penguins.
Syracuse Wins the Series 4-1
Syracuse Win the Eastern Conference Championship
Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout victory. He was the player of the series, in my opinion. By stealing Game Three, a game where the Crunch played their worst hockey, he really put the Pens behind the eight ball and tonight was the finishing touch.
SYR Namestnikov, (2) (Sustr, Johnson), 16:04
SYR Gudas, (2) (Brown, Wyman), 16:56
SYR Paradis, (1) (Barberio, Sustr), 13:37
SYR Sexton, (4) (Devos), 15:31
SYR Palat, (5) (Sexton, Barberio), 17:58 (PP)
SYR Paradis, (2) (Sustr), 1:02
SYR Paradis, (3) (Sexton, Barberio), 5:43
Phillipe Paradis, Desjardins, and Dan Sexton were the game's three stars. Best line of the night? It was Syracuse's extra forwards Paradis and Cedric Paquette (whom I have dubbed "Dump Truck" for his fleet skating ability and work rate). With the Crunch up 2-0 at the end of the First Period, they seemed to take their foot off the gas the first 5 minutes of the Second Period. It looked like the Pens would make a game of it until the 4th liners came in and started to get zone time and turn the momentum back to Syracuse. They never looked back, and Paradis eventually ran up a hat trick for the ages. None of the goals were cheapies, either. Paradis has a surprisingly good shot and absolutely took Zatkoff to school on each one.
Another highlight? Dmitry Korobov beating the tar out of Paul Thompson. You know Thompson thought he was picking a winnable opponent going up against a Belarussian. Wrong. Korobov beat him like he stole a mortgage payment worth of money from him. Remind me never to get Dmitry Korobov mad at me. He rained fists down on the top of Thompson's head with tropical storm force. Wow.
Radko Gudas sat out the Third Period with what appeared to be a lower body bruise. Richard Panik again sat out of the lineup (making room for Dump Truck), but he was in the morning skate and one would assume he will be available in the next series. Grand Rapids looks to be on the way to winning tonight's game against Oklahoma City, which would knot that series up at 2-2. That means it could be half a week before the Crunch know who their Calder Cup Finals opponent is, and you hope it's a week where Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City beat the daylights out of each other while Syracuse heals. Whichever opponent makes it out of the West, Syracuse will have home ice to begin the series, so they've done just about everything they need to strategically to set themselves up to try to collect another title.
Box score from TheAHL.com.