SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Fourteen different Syracuse Crunch players recorded a point in the 8-5 victory over the Toronto Marlies in Game 2 tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Of the fourteen, seven players had multi-point efforts. Cory Conacher tallied two shorthanded markers and an assist, while Joel Vermin and Matthew Peca both netted two goals of their own. Yanni Gourde recorded three helpers, Michael Bournival and Tye McGinn picked up a goal and an assist and Byron Froese made it a multi-point night with two assists. The win gives Syracuse a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the best-of-seven North Division Finals series.
Syracuse limited Toronto to just eight shots on goal through the first two periods. Mike McKenna backstopped the Crunch with 14 saves on his way to a fifth consecutive post-season victory. Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 13-of-18 before being relieved by Antoine Bibeau in the second period. Bibeau went on to turn aside 15-of-17. Syracuse converted on 1-of-8 power play opportunities, while Toronto was successful on 3-of-7.
Syracuse was first on the board and built a three-goal lead before the Marlies even registered a shot on net. Just 2:37 into the contest, Froese cleared the zone and sent the puck through the neutral zone. Conacher chased it down and flew down the right side to pick the top left corner for a shorthanded tally. Ben Thomas earned a point on the opening marker. One minute later, the Crunch doubled their score with an even-strength goal. Conacher picked up the puck from Gourde, wove through two defenders down low and wrapped around the back of the cage before backhanding a centering feed for Bournival to one-time from the slot.
At the 9:30 mark, Bournival backhanded a shot that ricocheted off the cross bar. Peca cleaned up a rebound from the left goal post while Kaskisuo was out of position. Adam Erne recorded the secondary helper.
Toronto found the back of the net late in the first period to steal one back. Justin Holl skated the puck into the zone and dropped it at the top of the left circle. Andreas Johnsson followed behind and netted it with a slap shot.
With 21 seconds remaining in the opening frame, the Crunch potted their fourth goal on the power play. Matt Taormina chipped the puck down low for Froese to catch and drop to his stick. He sent a no-look feed between the circles for McGinn to pick up and send home.
The Crunch opened the middle frame with two more goals 1:31 apart. Vermin gained control of the puck in the neutral zone, deked around a defender and released a wrist shot over Kaskisuo's shoulder to chase him from the game. Daniel Walcott and Kevin Lynch collected the assists. At the four-minute mark, Condra set up Peca to jump out on a breakaway and score five-hole. McGinn made it a multi-point night on the play.
Toronto pulled within three with two power-play goals of their own in the second period. Halfway through the period, Carl Grundstrom sent a cross-crease pass for Cal O'Reilly to send into a wide-open back door. Kasperi Kapanen then breezed around the Crunch defense to add another from the right hash marks.
Conacher recorded his second shorthanded goal of the game at the 11:58 mark. After back-and-forth passing across the zone with Gourde, Conacher capitalized on the quick puck movement and potted one from the left side while Bibeau was down.
Late in the third, Vermin tallied his second of the night with an empty-net goal off assists from Dominik Masin and Gourde.
Seth Griffith added one more for Toronto with a backhander on the breakaway with 1:04 remaining in the game, but Syracuse was able to hold on to their decisive victory.
The Crunch and Marlies travel to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Crunchables: Eight is the most goals the Crunch have scored in franchise history during the Calder Cup Playoffs…Matthew Peca earned his first two-goal game since March 18 against Albany…The Crunch are on a season-high seven-game home win streak…Thirteen combined goals are the most in a Crunch game this season.