SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Crunch scored five consecutive goals to down the Toronto Marlies, 6-3, in Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night at the War Memorial Arena.
Gabriel Dumont opened scoring for the Crunch before the Marlies surged to a two-goal lead by the midway point of the second period. Matt Taormina and Adam Erne evened the score in the middle frame followed by goals from Matthew Peca, Cory Conacher and Yanni Gourde in the final stanza to secure victory.
Mike McKenna stopped 14-of-17 shots to go a perfect 6-0 at home in the postseason. Kasimir Kaskisuo turned aside 24-of-29 in net for the Marlies. Syracuse converted on 1-of-4 power play opportunities and shut down all three Toronto man-advantages.
The Crunch kicked off scoring at the 6:26 mark of the first period. Mathieu Brodeur threw a cross-zone pass for Ben Thomas to one-time from the left circle. Dumont tipped the puck down low for his third of the playoffs.
Toronto netted two in 1:20 to take over the lead before the first intermission. At the 17:37 mark, Seth Griffith sent a give-and-go pass to Trevor Moore at the goal line and netted the return feed from the slot. Cal O'Reilly earned the secondary assist. Brendan Leipsic then skated in, waited, and fired a wrister from the left wing off an assist from Steve Oleksy to put Toronto on top.
Halfway through the middle frame, the Marlies built a two-goal lead. Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson came in on a 2-on-1 rush. Kapanen slid the puck across the slot for Johnsson to redirect into the net.
Syracuse scored two of their own late in the second period to even the score, 3-3. While Peca had the puck on the left boards, Taormina cut down the right wing to chip a shot in backdoor at the 13:30 mark. With 4:46 remaining, Conacher received a pass from Taormina at the point and fired from the right faceoff dot. Erne stuck his stick out to redirect the shot past Kaskisuo to knot the game on the power play.
The Crunch added three more in the final stanza to take the Game 7 win. Just eight seconds into the period, Peca scored on the breakaway with the help of Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek. At the 18:19 mark, Gourde sent a perfect centering feed from behind the goal line. Conacher picked it up while crashing the net and potted an insurance marker. Erik Condra collected a point on the play. Gourde then recorded an empty-netter with 31 seconds remaining to eliminate the Marlies.
The Crunch will travel to take on the Providence Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday at 7:05 p.m.
Crunchables: The Crunch are 2-3 in Game 7s. The last Game 7 win was May 12, 1996 in Baltimore…Slater Koekkoek has recorded an assist in four of his last five games…Matthew Peca, Matt Taormina and Erik Condra are tied for the team lead with 10 post-season points…Byron Froese, Matthew Peca, Erik Condra, Yanni Gourde, Cory Conacher and Matt Taormina all have three multi-point games in the postseason…Matthew Peca and Byron Froese lead the team with two game-winning goals.