Crunch Let Lead Slip Away, Beat Phantoms in OT

By Jeremy Houghtaling

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."

Ten Crunch players showed up on the scoresheet, with the line of Richard Panik, Dana Tyrell and Tanner Richard each registering multiple points. Panik netted the game-winner with the man-advantage 1:37 into the extra frame.

"I think it help(ed) us a lot to get (a) power play in the overtime," Panik said. "Obviously, we didn't play good in (the) third period, so in tomorrow's game we've got to play better from the beginning."

Panik seems to have found his stride since returning from the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He has two goals and eight points in his last three games.

"He makes NHL plays," Zettler said of Panik. "He's a big man, he has a big body. He reads the play well and he makes stuff happen. He's a highly skilled player, and when he wants to get it going, he can control games for us."

But it was Panik's linemates that got things going in the first period. Tyrell, sprung on a breakaway by Richard, beat Phantoms goalie Yann Danis' blocker 7:25 into the game.

"Tanner is able to make plays happen," Zettler said. "He can move pucks and he's got some speed. He's working with some speed now, so he's able to get pucks to guys that are going fast and you saw that a couple times tonight."

Adirondack's Nick Cousins tied the game in the final three minutes of the first, but Syracuse took a commanding lead with three goals in the second.

PC Labrie's shot went of Philippe Paradis' skate and into the net midway through the middle stanza, Richard connected with Tyrell on a 2-on-1 with five minutes left in the second, and 18 seconds later the puck bounced around the front of the Phantoms crease, went off Jon DiSalvatore's skate and into the back of the net.

"We've had good chemistry the past couple days," Tyrell said of connecting with Richard for a pair of goals. "He's a good friend of mine. We get along pretty well off the ice, so that goes right onto the ice. He's a great passer, he's a playmaker and he's fun to play with."

Kyle Flanagan, Mark Alt and Tye McGinn each netted third period goals for the Phantoms to force overtime.

Luke Witkowski drove to the net to force a hooking penalty one minute into the extra frame, and Panik finished off a feed from DiSalvatore 37 seconds later.

Brett Connolly, Cedric Paquette, and Matt Taormina also registered assists in the game. Cedrick Desjardins finished with 32 saves in the win.

"He completely kept us in the game the first two periods," Zettler said of Desjardins. "I think he probably would like to have a couple of those back in the third."

Syracuse (22-23-4-5) hope for the same outcome -- but a better third period -- when it travels to Glens Falls for a rematch with the Phantoms Sunday.

"Obviously, we didn't play the way we wanted to in the third, and we can't let that creep into our game," Tyrell said. "We can't play like that coming out tomorrow, or we'll be on the short end of the stick."

Pictured: Crunch players celebrate a goal against the Phantoms at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.