PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Syracuse Crunch went on top early in the first period and sustained pressure to take a 6-3 win over the Providence Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Six different players scored for the Crunch in their series-opening victory. Tye McGinn was first to light the lamp followed by Michael Bournival in the opening frame. The Bruins got one back to start the second period, but Joel Vermin quickly stole it back. Gabriel Dumont added another in the third before Providence went on a short run and scored twice in 13 seconds to pull within one. Syracuse cut off the comeback attempt and potted two empty-netters from Yanni Gourde and Byron Froese to snap a three-game road skid and jump out to a 1-0 series lead.
Mike McKenna earned the win with a 33-save performance between the pipes for the Crunch. Zane McIntyre stopped 19-of-23 for the Bruins. Syracuse special teams were effective going 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The Crunch were first to score 3:57 into the contest. Erik Codra cut off a defender with a poke check in the slot to force a turnover. McGinn picked up the loose puck and netted a wrister. At the 12:20 mark, Syracuse doubled their lead on their fifth shot of the game. The puck slid through a scrum for Bournival to chip in. Cory Conacher and Gourde earned points for assisting.
Providence solved McKenna at the 4:37 mark of the second period when Alex Grant fired a rocket unassisted from the left point. Two minutes later, Syracuse regained a two-goal lead on the power play. Vermin sent a pass across the seam to Matthew Peca in the right circle, then cut towards the net. Peca threw a feed down low for Vermin to redirect backdoor. Matt Taormina picked up the secondary helper.
Four minutes into the final stanza, the Crunch went up by three. Peca skated down the right side and fired on net. McIntyre was unable to cover the puck and allowed it to trickle out for Dumont to clean up into an open net. Vermin made it a multi-point night with an assist.
The Bruins went on a rally to pull within one off back-to-back goals just 13 seconds apart halfway through the third period. Jake DeBrusk scored from the right hash marks during a 2-on-1 rush off assists from Matt Grzelcyk and Grant. Danton Heinen then potted a drop pass from Wayne Simpson in the left circle. Tommy Cross recorded the secondary.
The Crunch maintained momentum and stopped a comeback with two more markers of their own. Gourde and Froese both threw the puck down the ice for a couple of empty-netters to secure victory with the help of Dumont and Peca.
Syracuse and Providence return to the Dunkin' Donuts Center for Game 2 on Sunday at 7:05 p.m.