Artem Sergeev saw his opportunity and responded.
With three significant injuries to the Crunch blueline, Sergeev has thrived with increased ice time. The 20-year-old rookie defenseman has averaged close to 20 minutes a night and played in all situations, as Syracuse has gone 4-2 to snap out of a recent slide.
For Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler, Sergeev has elevated his play in the last few weeks.
"I've really liked his physical play," Zettler said. "He's been smart. He uses his body well. He's a big, thick guy and he's strong. He's starting to understand how he can best use it to his advantage, and he's done that lately."
The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Dalton Smith from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Dana Tyrell and defenseman Matt Taormina Wednesday, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Audy-Marchessault, 5-8, 184 pounds, has played in 56 games with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League this season, recording 14 goals and 41 points. He leads the Falcons in games played, points and power play goals with seven. He ranks second for goals. Audy-Marchessault has been selected as an AHL All-Star the past two seasons. He has played in two career NHL games with Columbus, both during the 2012-13 season.
A native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, Audy-Marchessault played four seasons in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts from 2007-11 and was undrafted.
Smith, 6-2, 214 pounds, has played in 50 games with Springfield this season, recording four goals and nine points. He leads the Falcons with 99 penalty minutes and also led the them in 2012-13 with 128.
Even after one of the biggest performances of his young career, Kristers Gudlevskis tempered any excitement with perspective.
The Syracuse Crunch goalie made 55 saves, as Latvia nearly stunned Canada in the quarterfinals of the winter Olympics in Sochi late last month. The Herculean effort earned Gudlevskis praise worldwide.
But in his first practice back with the Crunch Tuesday, Gudlevskis was back to focusing on the task at hand.
"It was only one game," Gudlevskis said. "So I need to show everybody I'm really consistent every game all season long. I think only then I'm going to prove myself."
Syracuse's point streak is snapped at 6 games.
ADK Gervais, (8) (Akeson, McGinn), 1:35
ADK McGinn, (18) (Manning, Akeson), 12:31
ADK Matczak, (1) (Akeson, VandeVelde), 13:46
Syracuse sees the opportunity to get back to .500 slide by the boards. Syracuse's next game is Friday, the night after Steven Stamkos is supposed to return in Tampa Bay. Presuming Valtteri Filppula is also back for the Lightning by then, one would presume Gudlevskis may be joined by 1-2 players from the Lightning to bolster the Crunch for next weekend.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch won their fourth-straight, but they didn't make it easy.
The Crunch let a three-goal lead slip away in the third period, but converted on a power play in overtime to slip past the Adirondack Phantoms, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
Syracuse coach Rob Zettler was glad to get the two points, but believed his team shouldn't have given up four goals.
"I thought our third period was, frankly, borderline embarrassing," Zettler said. "I thought it was bad. I thought they controlled the whole third period. I thought we controlled the whole second period, and we turned around and we were completely flat in the third period."