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MVP Johnson’s hat trick leads Crunch past Falcons

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Tyler Johnson’s hat trick led the Crunch to a 5-3 win, and 2-0 series lead, over the Falcons tonight at the Mass Mutual Center.

League MVP Johnson scored two power-play goals and one shorthanded goal for the first post-season hat trick in Crunch history. Johnson is now tied for the league lead in scoring this postseason with (6g, 7a). Tonight’s win, Syracuse’s fifth in a row, ties a Crunch franchise record for most consecutive postseason victories.

Syracuse’s penalty kill unit kept the Falcons scoreless on seven man-advantage opportunities and netminder Cedrick Desjardin recorded 28 saves en route to an eighth consecutive victory.

The Crunch had a 2-0 lead after the first 1:15 of play. Richard Panik opened the scoring with a power-play tally, his third of the playoffs, 1:02 into the game. Ondrej Palat found Panik in the slot for the score, the secondary assist went to Johnson. Crunch captain Mike Angelidis made it 2-0 13 seconds later. JT Brown threw the puck on net and a crashing Angelidis deflected the puck past Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney for the Crunch’s second goal on as many shots.

Springfield cut the Crunch lead in half with 5:20 to play in the first frame. Desjardins made the initial save on a Dalton Prout point shot, but Russell capitalized on a scramble in front of the net and slid the puck past Desjardins. The Crunch carried their 2-1 lead into the first intermission despite the Falcons holding a 14-7 shot advantage.

Johnson scored the next two goals of the contest to extend the Crunch lead to 4-1. Johnson’s first of the game was a 5-on-3 power-play tally with 11:29 to play in the middle stanza. Johnson’s second goal was an unassisted shorthanded goal scored off a shot from the right circle with 5:55 to play in the second period.Springfield’s Trent Vogelhuber scored 24 seconds later to cut the Crunch lead down to two goals. Vogelhuber’s goal was assisted by Cody Goloubef and Andrew Joudrey.

Johnson completed the hat trick to with shot from the left circle to give the Crunch a 5-2 lead 6:47 into the final frame. The Falcons answered with an even strength goal from Boone Jenner at the 8:04 mark of the third period. Jenner deflected a Nick Holden point shot past Desjardin to cut the Crunch lead to two.

Syracuse will host Game 3 of the series at the War Memorial on Wed., May 15 at 7 p.m.

CRUNCHABLES: The Tyler Johnson/Richard Panik/Ondrej Palat line combined for nine points tonight…Their line has totaled 16 points in the two games against the Falcons this series…Ondrej Palat is third in the AHL for post season scoring with (3g, 9a)… Palat’s nine assists is the most in the AHL this postseason …Defenseman Radko Gudas returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 of the series.

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