SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After going down less than two minutes into the game, the Syracuse Crunch came back to defeat the Toronto Marlies, 3-1, and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven North Division Finals series.
The Marlies converted on a second chance opportunity just 1:39 into the game to set up a quick lead before Erik Condra evened the score with a redirection late in the opening frame. Byron Froese gave Syracuse the lead in the middle stanza with a snipe from the right circle followed by Yanni Gourde's empty-netter in the third period.
Mike McKenna earned his fourth consecutive post-season victory with 24 saves for the Crunch. Kasimir Kaskisuo turned aside 26-of-28 shots in net for the Marlies. Syracuse had productive special teams converting on 1-of-5 power play opportunities and shutting down all four Toronto man-advantages.
The Marlies jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the contest when a shot got caught in traffic and dropped down into the slot for Andreas Johnsson to sweep in. Andrew Nielsen and Trevor Moore recorded points on the opening tally.
With 5:20 remaining in the first frame, the Crunch evened it up. After circling the puck around the zone on the power play, Matt Taormina sent it over for Froese to fire from the left point. Condra angled his stick in the slot for a perfect redirection past Kaskisuo.
Syracuse took over the lead late in the middle stanza. Adam Erne sped down the right wing side before peeling off at the bottom of the right circle and dropping a pass back. Froese picked it up and sent a wrister from the right hash marks off the far post and in. Daniel Walcott recorded the secondary helper.
Gourde added an empty-netter with 1:17 remaining in the game off assists from Cory Conacher and Condra to secure a victory for the Crunch.
Syracuse and Toronto return to the War Memorial Arena tomorrow for Game 2 at 7 p.m.