SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After allowing a late surge, the Syracuse Crunch held on to defeat the Providence Bruins, 5-4, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Matt Taormina and Yanni Gourde contributed a goal and an assist each, while Michael Bournival rounded out the goal count with one marker. Jake Dotchin also put up a multi-point night with two helpers.
The Crunch built a two-goal lead in the first period with tallies from Conacher and Bournival. Taormina made it 3-0 early in the second before the Bruins finally found the back of the net. Gourde regained the three-goal lead for the Crunch in the final frame, but Providence scored twice within 12 seconds to pull within one in the final minutes. Conacher recorded his second of the night for what seemed like an insurance goal, but it was followed quickly by another Bruins marker. Syracuse eventually smothered the comeback and pulled out 2-1 series lead.
Mike McKenna was phenomenal in net turning aside 37-of-41 shots between the pipes for the Crunch. Zane McIntyre stopped 12-of-15 for the Bruins before being relieved by Malcolm Subban in the second period. Subban went on turn away 21-of-22. Syracuse went 1-for-6 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Crunch opened scoring with a power-play marker halfway through the first period. Gourde broke up a battle on the boards to start the play. Taormina grabbed the puck and threw a cross-zone feed for Conacher to one-time from the right circle. Syracuse doubled their lead at the 14:18 mark. Mathieu Brodeur's shot from the point got slowed down in traffic, but trickled to the crease where Bournival tipped it just past McIntyre's left foot. Ben Thomas recorded the secondary assist.
Taormina put the Crunch up 3-0 and chased McIntyre from the game in the middle stanza with a shot from the blue line during a screen. Conacher earned the assist.
With 2:25 remaining in the second, the Bruins stole one back. McKenna was unable to control a rebound and it dropped down for Danton Heinen to push across the goal line with the help of Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz.
Less than four minutes in the third, Gourde netted his fourth of the playoffs when he chipped in a second chance opportunity from the doorstep. Jake Dotchin and Conacher tallied the helpers.
With under four minutes remaining in the game, the Bruins kicked off a comeback effort. It started at 16:49 when Providence netted two in 12 seconds to bring themselves back into the game. Anton Blidh backhanded a rebound out front followed by a wrist shot from the slot by Heinen with Subban on the bench for the extra attacker.
Conacher cut off the comeback with an empty netter at the 17:52 mark, but Ryan Fitzgerald added a shorthanded goal to make it a one-goal game again. Syracuse held on for the final 51 seconds to continue their seven-game home post-season winning streak.
Syracuse and Providence return to the War Memorial Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. for Game 4.
Single game tickets for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs presented by NAPA Auto Parts are on sale now and can be purchased in person at the Crunch office located inside the War Memorial Arena at 800 S. State St. in Syracuse, by calling the office at 315-473-4444 or by logging on to Ticketmaster. For the latest Crunch news, visit www.syracusecrunch.com or follow the club on Facebook (www.facebook.com/syracusecrunch), Twitter (@SyracuseCrunch) and Instagram (@syracusecrunch) using #SyrCrunch and #FIN15H.
Crunchables: The Crunch are 7-0 at home this postseason…Yanni Gourde has five multi-point games in the playoff and three in his last four games…Cory Conacher is the first Crunch player to record a four-point game in the playoffs. He had two four-point games in the regular season, both against the St. John's IceCaps.
Conacher led the Crunch with a four-point effort comprised of two goals and two assists.