With a subtle pump of the fist, Richard Panik's celebration showed his goal was more alleviating than exhilarating.
After his team squandered a two-goal lead against the Adirondack Phantoms, the Syracuse Crunch forward picked up a loose puck that ricocheted off a defenseman, and fired it low blocker-side. It wasn't his prettiest, but it counted all the same.
"I was so relieved that I scored and I put the team in the lead," Panik said.
The Slovakian winger's team-leading 21st goal of the season stood up as the game-winner, and Philip-Michael Devos added an insurance marker, as the Crunch snapped their two-game losing streak with a 4-2 win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday night.
Getting back on track.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the victory.
SYR Angelidis, (7) (Cote), 14:33
SYR Connolly, (18) (Killorn), 4:20
ADK FitzGerald, (1) (Syvret), 5:37
ADK Laliberte, (1) (Akeson, Dimmen), 12:20
SYR Panik, (21) (Gauthier, Namestnikov), 9:15
SYR Devos, (3) (Connolly), 17:30
It was a long week of hard work and soul searching for the Crunch as they continue to try to establish an identity in the post-lockout world. Fortunately, they got a result from their work right out of the chute, which is important to validate what they've put into the process so far and to keep it going.
Albany comes to town tomorrow. Syracuse moves within 2 points of Binghamton for both the East Division and the Eastern Conference lead.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch's recent slide is the result of a myriad of factors.
After losing two straight games and six of their last seven, it is impossible for the Crunch to pinpoint one specific problem. With a little bit of everything to blame, the answers range from a mix of bad luck and tough opposition in net to defensive lapses and a lack of scoring.
“We just haven’t been playing the way we want to play,” said Crunch forward Tyler Johnson.
The Crunch hopes to remedy one of those problems, an absence of offense, by combining their top three point-scorers on the same line. With Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Brett Connolly practicing on the same unit, Syracuse hopes it becomes the team's slump-buster when Albany and Adirondack visit the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday and Saturday.
Richard Panik was in the right place at the right time.
The Syracuse Crunch forward, stationed just outside the Rochester Americans' crease, watched as the puck trickled away from a sprawling David Leggio.
"I was standing on the goal line and I tapped it in," Panik said.
With the game tied, the tide seemed to turn in the Crunch's favor.
But that feeling was brief.
Before the goal was finished being announced, Rochester retook the lead on a Rick Schofield goal. The Americans scored three more times before the Crunch could respond, as Syracuse fell 5-3 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
It's starting to feel like Rochester has Syracuse's number.
Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 21 shots for the loss. That's an ugly stat line and a bitter pill for the whole team to swallow when they outshot Rochester 46-21.
RCH Rissmiller, (1) (McNabb), 11:48 (PP)
SYR Panik, (20) (Wyman, Angelidis), 11:28
RCH Schofield, (6) (Varone, Legault), 12:06
RCH Crawford, (3) (McNabb, Rissmiller), 14:16 (PP)
RCH Sundher, (4) (Mancari, Porter), 7:34
RCH Porter, (14) (Mancari, Gauthier-Leduc), 9:21
SYR Connolly, (17) (Killorn, Korobov), 12:50
SYR Gauthier, (5) (Barberio), 17:23
Richard Panik notched his 20th goal of the season in the defeat. Alex Killorn is tied with Jason Zucker of Houston for second in rookie scoring behind Justin Schultz, whose callup to Edmonton puts the Rookie of the Year award in play for Killorn.
But first, Syracuse needs to shake off the futility of this weekend.
Box score from TheAHL.com.