Crunch Allow Five Third Period Goals in 6-3 Loss to Penguins

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored five times in the third period to shock the Syracuse Crunch, 6-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.

The Penguins scored twice on the power play in the final frame, and finished 3-for-9 with the man-advantage.

"I just thought we were really sloppy in the third overall from a discipline point of view," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "We weren't stopping on pucks, we were circling around. It wasn't fun to watch the third."

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened the scoring on a goal by Tom Kostopoulos late in the first period, but Syracuse took the lead with two goals in the second.

Vladislav Namestnikov tipped a point shot from Matt Taormina on the power play to tie the game midway through the period. Nikita Nesterov registered the secondary assist.

Evan Rankin and Cedric Paquette broke out on a shorthanded 2-on-1 and Paquette buried a rebound to give the Crunch a lead late in the second.

"It's a good feeling, first goal in the American Hockey League, it's a good moment," Paquette said. "But like I said, it's tough because we lost."

"I thought the second we were excellent, we were all over them," Zettler said. "We didn't give up anything. We had penalties to kill, we still didn't give up anything."

The Penguins retook the lead in the first nine minutes of the third period on goals by Kostopoulos, Nick Drazenovic and Jayson Megna.

Taormina scored from the point to cut Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's lead to one with less than 10 minutes to play. Geoff Walker and Tanner Richard were credited with the assists.

"It gave us a little bit of life, but the whole third period we were in penalty trouble," Taormina said. "We kind of put ourselves in trouble that way. It was tough to bounce back from because they capitalized on their opportunities."

Harry Zolnierczyk scored a few seconds after a power play expired to give the Penguins a two goal lead, and Dominick Uher provided an empty-netter to seal the win.

"Bad penalties killed us…They took advantage of their opportunities," Zettler said. "That's what it came down to."

Riku Helenius made 21 saves in net for the Crunch, while the Penguins' Jeff Deslaurier made 26 stops.

Syracuse (1-0-1-0) hosts Binghamton Friday.

"Just clean things up," Zettler said of the week of practice before the game against the Senators. "We have a young team that needs to learn how to win these tight games."

Pictured: Crunch defenseman Nikita Nesterov takes the puck around the net against the Penguins at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.