Back on track.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory.
SYR Connolly, (28) (Namestnikov, Korobov), 1:37
SYR Connolly, (29) (Johnson, Palat), 8:28 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (33) (Palat, Taormina), 10:11 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (12) (Angelidis, Cote), 19:33
SYR Connolly, (30) (Paradis, Lee), 2:08
RCH Biega, (5) (Ellis, Mancari), 4:53
The cavalry arrived, and just in time. Brett Connolly threw in a hat trick, his first as a pro, to get to 30 goals. For my money, this guy needs to be in the AHL MVP discussion prominently. He's been the most consistent Crunch player all year long, even more so than Tyler Johnson whose stats sagged a little after coming back from Lightning camp midway through the year. Connolly and Johnson are tied for 8th in the league in scoring at 60 points.
Binghamton absolutely throttled Albany 5-0 to start the day, which put huge pressure on Syracuse to win. Meanwhile, Providence beat Springfield 2-0 in a head-to-head matchup that was advantageous for the Crunch. Syracuse remains 4 back of the Bruins, pulls into a tie with Springfield at 93 points, and remains 2 up on the Senators. All three teams have a game in hand on Syracuse, though. Next weekend, starting Friday, will be a 3-games-in-3-nights set to complete the regular season, all at home: Norfolk, Worcester, and a game against Binghamton that may well decide the East Division title. With Mark Barberio out of the lineup for Tampa Bay tonight and Victor Hedman back in, I would think more reinforcements are on the way, too.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Like Lou Rawls said, "Love is a hurtin' thing."
Ben Bishop allowed 6 goals on 45 shots for the loss. Guessing he's out of gas after spending much of the year in a deep goaltending rotation.
04:07 PIT Jokinen (8), (Morrow, Dupuis)
06:02 PIT Dupuis (20), (Kennedy, Niskanen)(PP)
16:00 TB Purcell (9), (Stamkos, Salo)(PP)
01:48 PIT Kunitz (21), (Iginla, Letang)(PP)
05:46 TB Connolly (1), (Panik, Killorn)
01:24 PIT Malkin (8), (unassisted)
04:45 PIT Jokinen (9), (Murray, Dupuis)
16:40 PIT Glass (1), (Jokinen, Iginla)(PP)
19:42 TB Purcell (10), (St. Louis, Carle)(PP)
I actually thought the Lightning set themselves up well to pull the upset heading into the Third Period, but after Bishop allowed the soft goal to Malkin the wheels started to come off. It's time to face facts, Steve Yzerman pulled the trigger on Boucher about 1 month too late to give Cooper the time he needed to turn this season around. The good news is that most, not all, but most of the Syracuse kids played decent games against the Pittsburgh machine tonight. That bodes well for next season.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 16:47. I wish he didn't play so tentative. Would've loved for him to score and then punch Pierre McGuire in the mush whilst explaining, "Learn to pronounce my name baldy." He was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today.
Alex Killorn had a helper but was -2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:31. He's been logging a ton of ice time lately and I wonder if he's hitting a bit of a rookie wall.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:29. Looked darned good with the puck on his stick. Looked fast and dangerous. He was also named a First Team AHL All-Star today.
Richard Panik had a helper and was -1 with 3 hits in 11:36. He had the primary helper on Connolly's beautiful tic-tac-toe goal. Connolly was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today, by the way.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 16 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:43. He's getting caught up ice too much. I like the effort level and toughness, but he needs to clean up some of his decision making.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 9:31.
Time to start sending the kids back to Syracuse for the playoffs. With the roster they have right now, the Crunch are in danger of a first round upset. It's too valuable a developmental opportunity and the NHL season is lost. Put Pouliot and Pyatt back in and send a couple key players down. It's the shrewd thing to do.
Bishop smacks down his ex-team.
14:29 OTT Alfredsson (9), (Turris, Phillips)
02:35 TB Labrie (1), (Thompson, Crombeen)
04:28 TB Lecavalier (9), (Purcell, St. Louis)(PP)
00:21 OTT Latendresse (6), (Turris, Wiercioch)
14:56 TB Stamkos (26), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
Vincent Lecavalier, Sami Salo, and The Secret Weapon, Pierre-Cedric Labrie were the game's three stars. Lecavalier is now over a point a game since coming back from the broken foot. It's a shame we'll never know what kind of season he could've had if he hadn't tried to play on a bad wheel for a month.
Old man Alfredsson retiring won't cost me any tears. The man's been cutting our hearts out for years.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 shot in 14:12 in his NHL debut. 4 giveaways. Oof.
Alex Killorn had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 22:13.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and was 75% on draws in 11:49.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 9:37.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:05.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:30. Check the man's shooting percentage. Sniper. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)
In the old days of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mark Barberio may be a 2-year veteran at this point in his career.
The Lightning had little organizational depth and if prospects showed flashes of NHL ability, they were called up to the big club and thrown to the proverbial wolves.
When new general manager Steve Yzerman took over, he changed all that, and Barberio is a prime example of his player development philosophy.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Mark Barberio from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, defenseman Matt Taormina has been reassigned to the Crunch
Barberio, 23, has played in 70 games this season with the Crunch, posting eight goals and 40 points to go along with 44 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating. He ranks third for assists (32) and fifth for points among AHL defensemen. The Montreal, Quebec native leads all Crunch defensemen in goals, assists and points. Of his eight goals this season, five have been recorded while on the man-advantage.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defenseman has skated in 212 career AHL games with the Crunch and Norfolk Admirals, posting 30 goals and 132 points with 111 penalty minutes. Last season, while playing for the Admirals, Barberio won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman. He was also part of the Admirals team that won the Calder Cup, registering two goals and nine points in 18 games during the playoffs.
Barberio was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 152nd overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The Entertainer, en fuego.
Cedrick "The Entertainer" Desjardins stopped all 29 shots he faced for his second consecutive shutout. Nothing wrong with that.
SYR Labrie, (11) (Namestnikov, Connolly), 9:11
SYR Johnson, (27) (Palat, Barberio), 14:29 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (28) (Barberio, Palat), 18:16 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (10) (Palat), 7:34
Desjardins, Tyler Johnson (pictured), and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars. Johnson currently sits 1 point behind Grover Nyquist of Grand Rapids for the top spot in the league in scoring and Brett Connolly is 4 back of Nyqvist in a tie for 5th in the league. Johnson also leads the league in goals and Palat is tied for 2nd in the league in assists, 2 back of leader Jeff Taffe of Hershey.
After scoring just 2 points in the entire month of January, Mark Barberio has 11 so far in February.
With Springfield getting thumped by Worcester today, Syracuse extends their Eastern Conference lead to 5 points over the Falcons and Senators with the Falcons hold 2 games in hand. Syracuse will go for 8 straight on Tuesday against Rochester.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Beasts of the East.
Cedrick Desjardin (pictured) raised shields for a 26 save shutout.
SYR Barberio, (8) (Labrie, Connolly), 4:37
SYR Labrie, (10) (Cote, Wyman), 12:35
SYR Brown, (7) (Tyrell, Cote), 19:33 (EN)
Syracuse came into this game 1 point ahead of Springfield for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. This was a battle of titans with a lot on the line, and ultimately Syracuse smoked the Falcons like a fine cigar. Mind you, Springfield netminder Allen York made it interesting, but Syracuse outshot Springfield 46-26 in this game, including 17-8 in the decisive final frame. That was a 1 versus 2 game. Think on that. Then think on the fact that the Crunch have won 6 in a row.
Uh oh, rest of the AHL. Jon Cooper sorted out the post-lockout madness. Jon Cooper has started to tune up the machine again. We've seen this movie before, folks, and we all remember how it ends.
Syracuse draws Connecticut next tomorrow afternoon.
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.
It was a night of firsts for the Syracuse Crunch.
But unfortunately for the Crunch, the firsts didn't stop there.
The St. John's IceCaps registered their first victory of the year after trailing at the first intermission, as the Crunch blew a 4-0 lead in a 5-4 overtime loss.
"I wish I was a little happier about it," Conacher said of his achievement. "Maybe sometime down the road I can get it and get a victory out of it, too."
As the Syracuse Crunch took the ice for warmups, they looked across the ice at something that gave them a range of emotions.
It was different. It was weird. It was somewhat-familiar.
It was the same bright blue, yellow and red Norfolk Admirals uniforms that most of the team wore last year during their amazing winning streak and ensuing run to the Calder Cup championship.
"You step out and you're skating around and you see them coming out of their lockerroom, and you're like 'Jeez, those jerseys look pretty familiar,'" Crunch defenseman Mark Barberio said. "After that, it comes down to you're playing hockey and they're the opposition."
Syracuse, the new affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored three power play goals in a 4-2 win over Norfolk, the former farm team, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.