Peca, Matthew

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-17-17 Marlies at Crunch

Five unanswered goals, and the Crunchning Death Star sets course for the Eastern Conference Finals.

TOR-3
SYR-6

Syracuse Wins the Series 4-3

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the victory. Sweet, sweet goal support!

First Period
6:26 SYR Dumont (3), (Thomas, Brodeur)
17:37 TOR Griffith (2), (Moore, O'Reilly)
18:57 TOR Leipsic (4), (Oleksy)

Second Period
11:03 TOR Johnsson (6), (Kapanen)
13:30 SYR Taormina (2), (Peca, McGinn)
15:14 SYR Erne (3), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)

Third Period
0:08 SYR Peca (4), (Dotchin, Koekkoek)
18:19 SYR Conacher (4), (Gourde, Condra)
19:29 SYR Gourde (2), (unassisted)(EN)

Matthew Peca, Gabriel Dumont, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars.

Syracuse's playoff life was in doubt for about a three and a half minute span of the Second Period tonight. Down 3-1, the team looked to be in potentially dire straits. Then the comeback started, and five goals later the Crunch had made their statement. This team may just win it all. How'd they do it? After leaning heavily on their veterans for most of this run, the Crunch youth have started to chip in on the scoresheet, making an unbelievable deep team even more lethal.

Matthew Peca is starting to build a legacy in these playoffs as a big goal, big game player. If you're wondering how we celebrated his game winning goal, assisted by fellow Bolt Prospects Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek: Chad had to go take a cold shower, I smoked a cigarette, and Tim demanded the misses, "Now go fix me a sammich!" We were happy/excited.

Syracuse will play the Providence Bruins for the AHL Eastern Conference crown. Providence was actually the fourth seed in a very deep and very talented Atlantic Division. It'll be a very tough series for the chance to advance to the organization's third Calder Cup Final of the Yzerman/BriseBois regime.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-6-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star snowmans unsuspecting Marlies.

TOR-5
SYR-8

Syracuse Leads the Series 2-0

Mike McKenna allowed 5 goals on 19 shots for the victory. Maybe not a banner night for McKenna, but he got that sweet nectar known as goal support.

First Period
3:27 SYR Conacher (2), (Froese, Thomas)(SH)
4:48 SYR Bournival (1), (Conacher, Gourde)
9:30 SYR Peca (1), (Bournival, Erne)
15:15 TOR Johnsson (3), (Holl)
19:39 SYR McGinn (3), (Froese, Taormina)(PP)

Second Period
2:29 SYR Vermin (2), (Walcott, Lynch)
4:00 SYR Peca (2), (Condra, McGinn)
8:15 TOR O'Reilly (1), (Grundstrom, Griffith)(PP)
12:00 TOR Kapanen (1), (Dermott)(PP)

Third Period
10:46 TOR Grundstrom (1), (Nielsen, Griffith)(PP)
11:58 SYR Conacher (3), (Gourde)(SH)
16:18 SYR Vermin (3), (Masin, Gourde)(EN)
18:56 TOR Griffith (1), (Greening)

Cory Conacher, Matthew Peca, and Michael Bournival were the game's three stars. There's little doubt this has been a veteran-heavy effort in the playoffs thus far, but it's good to see Matthew Peca having a good playoff run too, and he's now up to a point a game so far.

Syracuse did an excellent job to hold serve at home in Game One and Two, making sure that Toronto suffered properly for stubbing their toe in their regular season finale on the way to losing the North Division crown. That said, the old adage is still true: it's not a series until someone loses a game at home. Syracuse's challenge now is to win at least one game in the Marlies' barn with a view toward winning this series as quickly as possible in preparation for the colossal challenge that awaits if they can make it to the conference final.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-14-17 Senators at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star destroys Bingo.

BNG-1
SYR-4

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory.

First Period
19:08 SYR Bournival (9), (Peca, Thomas)

Second Period
9:26 SYR Condra (15), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
11:09 SYR Peca (12), (Taormina, Condra)(PP)
13:01 BNG Gagne (2), (McCormick, Flanagan)(PP)

Third Period
18:17 SYR Howden (2), (McGinn, Vermin)(EN)

Matthew Peca, Erik Condra, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars.

With 1 game to go on each team's schedule, Syracuse remains 1 point back of Toronto for the North Division crown. Toronto holds the ROW tiebreaker, so Toronto will have to lose their final contest in regulation for the Crunch to pull out the title. Syracuse closes out tomorrow night at home against Utica. Toronto is in St. John's to play the IceCaps tomorrow night. Interesting to note the IceCaps and Comets are both battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-25-17 Comets at Crunch

Crunch make good on the previous night's defeat.

UTI-1
SYR-5

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory. I think that might be his first quality start in a Crunch uniform.

First Period
10:27 UTI Zalewski (5), (Billins, Pelletier)
11:56 SYR Conacher (15), (Bournival, Peca)

Second Period
12:30 SYR Ikonen (4), (Comrie, Thomas)(PP)

Third Period
4:57 SYR Kurtz (3), (Peca, Condra)
8:44 SYR Froese (27), (Taormina, Conacher)(PP)
13:26 SYR Conacher (16), (McGinn)

Cory Conacher, Matthew Peca, and Henri Ikonen were the game's three stars. A rare Henri Ikonen sighting.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-18-17 Devils at Crunch

Peca delivers critical divisional victory for Syracuse.

ALB-1
SYR-2 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed just 1 goal on 42 shots for the victory, helping the Crunch overcome a 42-28 shot disparity. Since the trade deadline, Gudlevskis has suddenly been locked in while veteran Mike McKenna has struggled, begging the question of who will really be the team's number one goaltender heading into the playoffs.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
2:10 SYR Peca (9), (Bournival, Condra)
17:09 ALB Gibbons (13), (Stollery, Helgeson)

Overtime
1:13 SYR Peca (10), (Taormina, McGinn)(PP)

Gudlevskis, Matthew Peca, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars.

With the victory, the Crunch move out to a 3 point lead in the North Division over Albany with the Devils now holding a game in hand.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-11-17 Panthers at Lightning

No centers? No problem.

FLA-2
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the victory. The good ones respond to giving up a couple of early goals by shutting the door the rest of the way. This is about the 3rd or 4th time I can recall this season that Vasiy showed that kind of resiliency and mettle.

First Period
16:32 FLA Jagr (14), (Barkov, Marchessault)
19:13 FLA Pysyk (4), (Smith, Barkov)

Second Period
3:43 TB Kucherov (31), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:11 TB Gourde (1), (unassisted)(SH)

Third Period
17:37 TB Palat (14), (Sustr)

Ondrej Palay, Vasilevskiy, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Tampa Bay responded to bad luck and adversity with gutty brilliance tonight in a fashion that should make every Lightning fan proud of their team. They played a great First Period but found themselves on the unlucky end of a couple of greasy goals by the Panthers and some hot goaltending by Reimer (who actually played a whale of a game despite the loss). The Lightning didn't sag in the Second Period, as a lesser team would, and quickly cut the lead in half with the ubiquitous Nikita Kucherov power play goal. about 6 minutes later Gourde made one of the more fantastic individual plays you'll ever see to get the shorthanded goal with a defender draped all over him. Things got hairy almost immediately thereafter, though, when Andrey Sustr took a high sticking call that put the Lightning down 2 men and in danger of immediately surrendering the momentum. Remember, this is a team that dealt off two of its supposedly best PK'ers in Boyle and Filppula and has others like Paquette sitting on the shelf injured at the moment. To not allow a goal there set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Espo Rule victory pre-saged the eventual Lightning win in the Third Period, which was partially made possible by an amazing post to post save by Vasilevskiy on Sceviour late in the frame.

Tampa Bay sits at 73 points with 15 games left to go in the campaign. To reach a magic 96 points, they'll need 23 of a remaining 30 points or a .767 winning percentage. It may take a few less points than that to actually make the postseason, but you get the point about how steep the hill is. They've still got to play about .750 hockey the rest of the way to give themselves a chance.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 7:40.

Gregg McKegg was 63% on 8 draws in 7:38.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 2 hits in 19:30.

Gabriel Dumont had 5 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 9:24. He and Stralman lowered the boom to knock a couple of Panthers out of the game and set a physical tone tonight.

Matthew Peca was 0% on 7 draws in 10:39. Yikes.

Gourde had his first NHL goal and 2 shots in 17:09. He's been a completely different player in this callup. You wouldn't have known he was even in the lineup in his previous cups of coffee, but he's been a difference maker the past couple of outings.

Adam Erne had a clean sheet in 13:01. Might be hitting a wall in terms of his effectiveness on this recall.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-9-17 Wild at Lightning

Lightning dominance overshadowed by centerman attrition.

MIN-1
TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 33 shots for a dominating victory. He gave Minnesota nothing. He was in absolute command and it took a goofy bounce for Minnesota to stave off his shutout bid. That's two straight games where Vasiy has only allowed a single goal. Hard to lose when you do that.

First Period
6:53 TB Kucherov (29), (Hedman, Palat)(PP)
11:01 TB Hedman (13), (Drouin, Dotchin)

Second Period
4:37 TB Sustr (2), (Kucherov, Johnson)

Third Period
16:02 MIN Scandella (4), (Brodin, Koivu)
18:51 TB Kucherov (30), (Gourde)(EN)

Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

That was probably the most dominant game the Lightning have played against a quality opponent all season. The end result was never really in doubt and even as the Lightning were seeing their players drop like flies, their lower liners stepped up and continued to keep the game under total control. Unfortunately, it's dubious whether that kind of "next man up" success is replicable over the rest of the course of the season. Vladislav Namestnikov was the first to go down after going skates first into the board on a play that could be anything from a broken ankle to a knee. To my eyes, that looked like a season ender. Tyler Johnson was the next to go on a knee to knee hit from Nino Niederreiter. Johnson when down like a dropped sack of potatoes, and I'm hopeful he's the one of the three that can get back faster, but it didn't look great. Third to go was Cedric Paquette, who appeared to give himself a high ankle sprain tackling a Wild forward in the slot on a defensive zone play. That may come pretty close to ending his season given the slim number of games the team has left on the schedule. So, the Lightning are going to have to scramble just to find bodies at that position. McKegg can go back into the lineup and they'll probably immediately recall Matthew Peca. Ultimately, though, it may take Steven Stamkos donning the Superman cape and coming back from IR in the next 2 weeks and playing well just to keep the team's slim playoff hopes alive. It's either that or get Brian Bradley off the buffet line.

Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 16:33.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 8:21. He was also 63% on 8 draws.

Yanni Gourde had a helper in 16:35 and was on the ice defending the 6 on 5 at the end of the contest.

Adam Erne had 2 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 14:20. He had a really strong First Period, drawing the penalty that led to Kucherov's opening goal, but once the carnage started in the Second Period, it seemed like the line shuffling hurt the continuity Erne was forming with his linemates.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-5-17 Crunch at Senators

Another inauspicious McKenna outing.

SYR-4
BNG-6

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:59 BNG Bailey (17), (Carlisle, Flanagan)
10:59 BNG Mike Blunden (13), (Varone, Bailey)(PP)
11:47 SYR Walcott (4), (Peca)

Second Period
6:43 BNG Akeson (11), (Varone, Perron)
14:54 SYR Peca (8), (Conacher, Thomas)
19:07 BNG Bailey (18), (Akeson, Paul)(PP)

Third Period
16:23 BNG Akeson (12), (Varone, Harpur)(EN)
18:04 SYR Kurtz (1), (Halmo, Ikonen)
18:18 SYR Halmo (15), (Condra, Taormina)
19:35 BNG Akeson (13), (Varone, Sieloff)(EN)

Matthew Peca was the game's third star.

Deduct the garbage time foolishness at the end of the contest and it's a 4-2 game, which looks less bad but is still not entirely inspiring.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 2-25-17 Americans at Crunch

Usher Condra lets it burn in Crunch victory.

RCH-3
SYR-4

Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the victory. After going into the Third Period with the all important 3 goal lead, Wilcox did eventually surrender a couple of goals including the false hope goal early in the final frame. But, he was able to hold the fort the rest of the way to get the W.

First Period
0:46 SYR Condra (8), (Peca, Brodeur)
7:23 SYR Gourde (20), (Halmo, Vermin)(PP)
12:00 SYR Condra (9), (Walcott, Taormina)

Second Period
11:03 RCH Nylander (7), (Grant, Kennedy)(PP)
15:59 SYR Condra (10), (Gourde, Thomas)

Third Period
2:25 RCH Bonis (6), (Cornel, Catenacci)
4:17 RCH Baptiste (20), (Kennedy, Catenacci)

Erik Condra and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars. Condra had the home crowd screaming "yeah!" with his first pro hat trick while Gourde hit 20 goals for the second time as an AHL'er. Matthew Peca, somewhat quietly, has 1 goal and 7 points in his last 8 contests.

Syracuse pulls 2 points clear of Albany and 4 points clear of Toronto with the victory, and with both of those teams dropping their games in regulation tonight, the Crunch retained all their games in hand. Beautiful.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-13-17 Blue Jackets at Lightning

Game (and possibly season) slips away from Tampa Bay.

CBJ-3
TB-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the hard luck loss. He deserved better. He made a good number of timely saves but the Lightning couldn't finish their chances most of the night. It's a shame. A win would've been huge for the team and huge for Vasilevskiy's confidence.

First Period
16:18 TB Drouin (13), (Filppula, Palat)

Second Period
16:40 CBJ Anderson (10), (Savard)

Third Period
4:29 CBJ Foligno (15), (Werenski, Wennberg)(PP)
18:55 CBJ Jenner (7), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star.

The Lightning couldn't finish their chances, let Columbus hang around, and eventually the Blue Jackets finished just enough of theirs. It's really simple. The Lightning played a pretty good game overall. They dominated the first 30 minutes of the contest and could've easily built a good sized lead with the scoring chances they had, but they allowed Columbus to hang around. The final 30 minutes of the game the Blue Jackets found some traction with their forecheck and eventually found the tying goal and drew the power play to get the winner. All things being equal, there wouldn't be a whole lot from this game to cry over, but things are not equal right now. The Lightning standings situation is fast becoming desperate and it's getting to the point where every night they fail to earn points puts them closer to an early trip to the golf course.

Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 9:08. He was also 60% on 5 draws.

Matthew Peca had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:46.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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