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Crunch Time: Adam Wilcox leads Crunch to victory against Penguins

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Wed., Jan. 13 - Crunch at Binghamton - OTL, 4-3

Fri., Jan. 15 - Crunch vs. Utica - L, 3-1

Sat., Jan. 16 - Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton - W, 4-2

THIS WEEK

Wed., Jan. 20 - Crunch at Toronto - 7 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 23 - Crunch at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

• At 17-15-6-1, Syracuse is tied with Providence and St. John's at a .526 points percentage, seventh in the conference.

Adam Wilcox has won his last two starts and was the No. 1 star with 25 saves in Saturday's 4-2 win vs. the Pens.

• Syracuse continues a stretch of 12 of 15 away games with three North Division opponents on the road this week.

Second time around

Saturday was Mike Blunden's 125th game with the Crunch, split between a 64-game run during the Columbus era and 61 games with Tampa Bay. His two points Saturday give him 75 total with the Crunch—38 points (21g, 17a) as a Lightning prospect and 37 points (16g, 21a) with the Blue Jackets. He has 16 points this year in 28 games.

Both of Matt Taormina's stints in Syracuse have been under the Tampa Bay affiliation. He produced 42 points in his first 96 Crunch games (2012-14), .438 per game. Thirty-five games into an All-Star campaign he has 23 points, .657 per game. Altogether he's played 131 of his 400 professional games with the Crunch—plus 18 playoff games.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 37: Senators charge back for overtime win vs. Syracuse

Wednesday in Binghamton, the lead changed hands four times—including Crunch advantages of 1-0 and 2-1—but Senators' winger Ryan Dzingel scored at 1:36 of overtime to defeat Syracuse, 4-3.

Mike Angelidis registered a Gordie Howe hat trick (his first since Nov. 7, 2014) with his fourth goal, seventh assist and fourth fight. Other multi-point efforts came from Matt Taormina (2a) and Tanner Richard (1g, 1a). Jake Dotchin and Anthony DeAngelocollected single assists. Tye McGinn played his 200th AHL game.

After Syracuse fell behind, 3-2, Philippe Paradis knotted the score with his fifth goal of the year—his first since Nov. 29—to force overtime. Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 31 shots in his second overtime loss.

Game 38: Crunch close first half with 3-1 loss to Comets

The Comets scored twice in the first and held on for a 3-1 victory against the Crunch Friday at the War Memorial Arena. Utica leads the 10-game season series, 4-1. Mike Blunden scored for Syracuse in the game's final moments during six-on-five play. His seventh of the year was assisted by Tanner Richard and Tye McGinn.

Kristers Gudlevskis made 29 saves on 32 Utica shots, slipping to 7-7-2 as his goals-against average ticked up to 2.59. Joe Cannata stopped 26 of 27 for his 10th win and second vs. Syracuse. For the sixth time this season, neither side scored a power-play goal (0-for-8 combined). Yanni Gourde played his 250th professional game.

Game 39: Wilcox spurs Syracuse to 4-2 win vs. Penguins

Adam Wilcox stopped 25 of 27 shots and was the game's No. 1 star Saturday as Syracuse downed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-2. The season series between the Penguins and Crunch concludes with two wins apiece.

Syracuse scored three goals in the first period against Matt Murray, the conference's top goalie. Mike Blunden registered two points, including the eventual game-winning goal on a breakaway with Matthew Peca. He also assisted on Tanner Richard's empty-net score in the third.

Two power-play goals 49 seconds apart in the first period put the Crunch in control. Adam Erne tipped in the first goal, from Matt Taormina and Jeff Tambellini. Tye McGinn jammed home the second with Yanni Gourde and Jonathan Drouin assisting. The Atlantic-Division leading Penguins outshot the Crunch, 27-22.

WEEK AHEAD

Game 41: Wed., Jan. 20 - Crunch at Toronto - 7 p.m.

Toronto, the top team in the AHL this season, has won four consecutive games against the Crunch since Syracuse took the first matchup, 3-1, Oct. 28. Two of those Marlies' wins came in overtime.

At 31-7-2-0 (.800), the Marlies have seven more points than the second best team in the league. They own the league's highest goal differential (+60) with 3.85 goals per game (2nd in the AHL) and 2.35 goals allowed (4th).

T.J. Brennan is second in the league and first among defensemen with 37 points (14g, 23a). William Nylander and Josh Leivo also have eclipsed 30 points, but are not on the active roster. Mark Arcobello has 28 points in 26 games.

Among the six goaltenders who've played for Toronto this year, Antoine Bibeau (13-4-0, 3.03) has seen the most action with 18 games followed by Garrett Sparks (8-2-1, 1.90) who's played in 11. Sparks is 3-1 in five NHL games.

Game 42: Sat., Jan. 23 - Crunch at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m.

The Senators have moved up to 14th in the conference with three wins in four games. After four losses in Syracuse to begin the season series, the Sens won in Binghamton vs. the Crunch Wednesday in overtime. Despite their 5-12-2-0 road record, they're 10-8-1-0 at home. The Sens lead the league in penalty minutes, 770, and major penalties, 44.

The team's 3.23 goals-against average ranks 27th. Recent addition Scott Greenham has helped that ranking up from 29th with a 1.50 goals-against average in four games (3-1) including a shutout. Rookies Chris Driedger (9-8-1, 2.99) and Matt O'Connor (3-9-2, 3.44) have seen the most action in goal.

Cole Schneider and Ryan Dzingel are tied for the team lead at 30 points. Eric O'Dell is next at 26 points while leading the club in goals, 14. All-Star defenseman Michael Kostka leads the team at plus-12.

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