SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After giving up the first goal, the Syracuse Crunch netted five straight to take a 3-2 series lead with a decisive 5-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies Saturday at the War Memorial Arena.
Toronto lit the lamp just before the midway mark of the first period, but Matthew Peca responded for Syracuse within two minutes to kick off a scoring run. Joel Vermin and Kevin Lynch built a 3-1 lead for the Crunch in the second period before Jonathan Racine contributed a shorthanded goal followed by an empty-netter from Gabriel Dumont in the final stanza to snap a two-game skid.
Mike McKenna had a solid game between the pipes with a 26-save performance. Kasimir Kaskisuo turned aside 18-of-22 in net for the Marlies. Syracuse was unable to convert on two power play opportunities, but went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Marlies were first on the board at the 8:26 mark of the opening period. Steve Oleksy netted a slap shot from the high slot through traffic while McKenna was screened down low. Brett Findlay and Richard Clune recorded the assists.
Less than two minutes later, the Crunch retaliated. Racine backhanded the puck around the boards for Erik Condra to intercept behind the cage. After gaining control, he sent a centering feed for Peca to pot while alone in front of the crease.
Syracuse added two more in the second stanza to build a 3-1 lead over Toronto. At the 3:18 mark, Yanni Gourde came speeding in on a breakaway. His chance was stopped, but Cory Conacher followed behind to keep the play alive while Kaskisuo slid outside the posts. Eventually, Vermin was able to chip in the loose puck. Lynch recorded his first career post-season goal at 9:18. After an offensive zone faceoff, Daniel Walcott picked up the puck in the corner. He sent it back out for Lynch to redirect in from the bottom of the left circle.
Two more tallies in the third period secured a victory on home ice. Just over a minute into the frame, Gourde dug out the puck from the end boards and threw it back for Racine to score shorthanded from between the circles. Dumont then added an empty-netter with 3:38 remaining in the game. Condra and Michael Bournival earned the helpers on the final marker.
The North Division Finals best-of-seven series heads back to Toronto for Game 6 on Monday at 7 p.m.