After two potential game-winning goals were waved off in overtime, Richard Panik provided one that left little doubt.
The Syracuse Crunch forward accepted the pass from Ondrej Palat, spun to the left across the crease, and put the puck over Portland Pirates goalie Chad Johnson. No stranger to overtime goals, Panik was nonchalant about the play.
"Just a good move I guess," he said with a smile.
The goal capped a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win for the No. 3 Crunch over the No. 6 Portland Pirates in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. Syracuse hosts Game 2 Sunday.
Ontario Hockey League
(E1)Belleville Bulls 3 @ (E2)Barrie Colts 1
Best-of-7 Eastern Conference Finals tied, 3-3
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, +1, 4 PIM
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 1-4-5, +6, 25 PIM
Season totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
With Barrie: 28 GP, 2-6-8, -1, 42 PIM
With Owen Sound: 38 GP, 2-12-14, +1, 39 PIM
The Colts held a 3-1 lead in the series but twice have failed to close out the Bulls, this time falling 3-1 at home. Bruins first rounder Malcolm Subban stopped 32 of 33 shots for second star honors. Canucks first rounder Brendan Gaunce had two goals for Belleville. Game 7 is in Belleville on Monday.
Syracuse withstands Portland's best punch.
Syracuse Leads the Best-of-Five Series 1-0
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. 2 of those goals were softies on wrap-arounds that Desjardins needs to wipe out of his game quickly moving forward in these playoffs. He scares me. Point blank, the guy scares me.
POR Dziurzynski, (1) (Werek), 10:53
POR Rundblad, (1) (Gormley, Martinook), 17:16 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (1) (Panik, Palat), 6:37 (PP)
POR Brown, (1) (Lane, Miele), 8:23
SYR Barberio, (1) (Palat, Johnson), 13:32 (PP)
SYR Sexton, (1) (Sustr, Devos), 7:54
SYR Panik, (1) (Palat, Johnson), 6:36 (PP)
Richard Panik, Tyler Johnson, and Radko Gudas were the game's three stars. While not terribly visible at even strength, Panik showed great hands around the net on the PP setting up Johnson's goal and outwaiting Portland's netminder on the game winner. Panik attack, y'all.
That, I suspect, was Portland's best chance to seize upset momentum in this series. They got a couple of softies out of Desjardins and had the 2 goal lead on the road with a chance to steal home ice in a short 5-game series. The Crunch kept chipping away at it though and eventually wore out the Pirates, who now may have to go without Boris Valabik for a few games after a vicious elbowing major that led to Panik's winner. Syracuse now just has to make sure Brett Connolly, the recipient of that elbow, is healthy along with Johnson and Mark Barberio, each of whom also got banged up during the game. All three returned to action, so hopefully everything is going to be fine.
As quiet as a 3 assist night can be, I thought Ondrej Palat along with Johnson were Syracuse's best players tonight. Palat also drew three penalties out of Portland on top of his scoresheet production.
Game Two is tomorrow night. We'll see what Portland has in the tank.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Stop winnin' for MacKinnon.
Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.
5:00 TB Carle (5), (St. Louis)
13:14 TB Malone (6), (Lecavalier, Hedman)
16:54 FLA Bjugstad (1), (Strachan, Brennan)
00:54 FLA Fleischmann (11), (Huberdeau, Shore)
05:47 TB St. Louis (17), (Purcell, Stamkos)
05:30 FLA Upshall (4), (Selleck)
13:53 FLA Fleischmann (12), (Huberdeau, Kuba)
19:11 FLA Goc (9), (Huberdeau)
Martin St. Louis was the game's first star.
Man, was that Third Period ever a tank job General Patton would've been proud of? The team got Marty his multi-points to likely lock up the scoring race, and then strategery ensued. The Lightning locked up the third most ping pong balls and await the outcome of Colorado's game to see if they get more.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:33. Killorn finishes just a scant few games shy of graduation from prospect status in the lockout shortened year.
Mathieu Roy was -1 in 14:07, enjoying the NHL paycheck.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:37.
(4)Florida Everblades 2 vs. (1)Reading Royals 3 (OT)
Quarterfinals: The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2
D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, -1, 0 SOG, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 0-1-1, -3, 9 PIM
Season totals: 51 GP, 4-12-16, +7, 33 PIM
Florida took an early lead but had to score late in regulation to push the game into overtime where Reading's T.J. Syner caught a pass that sprung him in alone on Everblades netminder Jesse Deckert, whom he beat for the game-winning goal just 4:46 in. Both clubs failed to connect on any of their five power play opportunities, although Reading's first strike was a short-handed tally. Deckert stopped 25 of 28 shots in the contest. Both clubs wage battle in Estero again Saturday night looking to push the other to the brink of elimination.