First of all, sorry for being gone for so long. It's amazing how busy life gets when you get home from a trip and have two games in two days. When you're on the road, all you have to concentrate on is the work that you have to get done before the next game. When you're home, not only does all of that have to be done, but other important things pop up, like getting the lawn mowed before you have to leave again and you can't find the house when you return. I will say this though, it's nice to have to mow the lawn and call a hockey game in the same day. We're not afforded that luxury very often in Syracuse.
Let me recap the events from the last few days. First of all, the Crunch came back to Syracuse with a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series with the Toronto Marlies. After winning two on the road, some people thought it would be easy to sweep the series. Apparently, some of those people are in the Crunch dressing room because that's the approach the team seemed to take in Game 3. They paid the price for that, losing 8-2 on Tuesday night. Afterward, and the next day, the players talked about what a good lesson it was to be humiliated at home. You have to understand, this is a team that hadn't lost a game, in regulation, at home since mid-February. The fact that they had to face adversity was something they were going to use as motivation for Game 4.
That game was played last night and it started to look like déjà vu all over again. The Marlies took a lead just 44 seconds into the game before the Crunch rallied for two goals. In the second period, Toronto beat goaltender Karl Goehring three times to build a 4-2 lead. It was in the third period that the Crunch magic returned. Derek MacKenzie scored to make it a one goal game before Derick Brassard tied it with just 1:38 left. That put the Crunch into overtime for the sixth time in 10 playoff games. Like they had done four previous times, the Crunch won beyond regulation time and takes a 3-1 series lead back to Toronto for Game 5 on Friday night. Joakim Lindstrom got the game-winner as Zenon Konopka set him up between the circles. Konopka finished the game with one goal and three assists.
Konopka didn't like the way his team was acting after the second period, so he and teammate Mark Rycroft went to work. Konopka said, "We had to drag some lips off the ground and kick a few guys in the behind, but it worked and we're stronger for it now."
Here's a funny story Brassard told me on the post-game show. He was sitting next to Konopka, on the bench, when Karl Goehring made three great saves in the third period. Konopka turned to him and said, "That's the turning point of the game." Brassard responded by saying, "Zenon, we're down by two." I have to think that Brassard will remember that conversation for quite some time. Maybe someday when he's a veteran player, on an NHL bench, he'll let some rookie know that a game that looks to be over has really only just begun.
Game 5 is Friday night in Toronto. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m. The Crunch can advance to the Western Conference Finals with a win. You can listen to the game online, at sportsradio620.com or watch it on the B2 Network.