- The Crunch won both games in Springfield to begin the Conference Semifinals, and are 5-0 this postseason.
- Tyler Johnson is tied for the Calder Cup Playoff scoring lead at 13 points with six goals and seven assists.
- Syracuse continues its best-of-seven series vs. Springfield Wednesday and Friday at the War Memorial.
Crunch return to War Memorial after taking 2-0 series lead in Springfield
The Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Crunch and Falcons shifts to the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse for Game 3 Wednesday, Game 4 Friday and, if necessary, Game 5 Saturday. The Crunch come home with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, taking Game 1 Friday, 5-2, and Game 2 Saturday, 5-3.
Tyler Johnson has seven points (4g, 3a) in the first two games of this series to lead the Crunch, and 20 points in eight games since returning from his first stint in the NHL with Tampa Bay. Ondrej Palat has five assists in the Semifinals (nine in the playoffs), while Richard Panik has chipped in with two goals and two assists (six points in the postseason). In goal, Cedrick Desjardins has allowed five goals on 55 shots and has both wins. He’s a perfect 5-0 this postseason.
After giving up the third fewest number of goals during the regular season, the Falcons allowed five goals in both Game 1 and Game 2. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney allowed ten goals on just 34 shots in the two games. He was pulled in game one after allowing five goals on nine shots. So far this series, former Crunch player Nick Holden leads Springfield with three assists in the two games. Ryan Craig (1g-1a) and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (2a) are the only other players with multiple points through two games.
The Crunch have won the special teams battle so far as well. Syracuse went 4-for-14 (28.6%) on the power play in the two games in Springfield. Meanwhile the Falcons are 2-for-13 (15.4%) with the man advantage, also allowing a shorthanded goal.
WEEK IN REVIEW
ECSF Game 1: Syracuse chases McElhinney, stuns Springfield, 5-2
The Crunch scored two goals in twenty seconds as part of a four goal first period to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 5-2, over the Springfield Falcons Friday at MassMutual Center.
Mark Barberio got the scoring started with a power play goal 8:40 into the opening period, after he scooped up a rebound and fired it past Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Just 20 seconds later, Richard Panik backhanded a loose puck through traffic to beat a sprawling McElhinney to make it 2-0 Crunch. Springfield would answer just over a minute later as Nick Drazenovic wristed one from the top of the right wing circle past Crunch goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. The Crunch would respond by scoring twice more in the first period, on goals from J.T. Brown and Brett Connolly, to take a 4-1 edge into the intermission.
Midway through the second period the Crunch added to the lead. Tyler Johnson rocketed a shot from the right wing circle past McElhinney to make it 5-1 Crunch. It was Johnson’s third point of the game, finishing with a goal and two assists. The Falcons managed a power-play goal with under two seconds left in regulation, making the final score 5-2. Cedrick Desjardins made 22 saves on 24 shots while Curtis McElhinney allowed five goals on just nine shots before being replaced in goal by Allen York, who stopped all 11 shots he faced. The Crunch went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Falcons finished 2-for-6 with the man advantage. Springfield held a 24-20 shots lead.
ECSF Game 2: Crunch offense continues to roll over Falcons in 5-3 win
The Crunch scored twice in the first 1:15 and got a hat trick from Tyler Johnson to beat the Falcons 5-3 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Saturday at MassMutual Center. The Falcons had lost only five of their previous 25 home games, dating back to Dec. 30, before dropping two in a row at home to Syracuse.
After Boone Jenner took a roughing penalty just 36 seconds into the game for Springfield, the Crunch power play connected for a 1-0 lead. Richard Panik redirected an Ondrej Palat shot past Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney just 1:02 into the game. On the ensuing shift, J.T. Brown raced down the left wing then threw the puck toward the front of the net, where it hit off Mike Angelidis and went past McElhinney for a 2-0 lead, on goals just 13 seconds apart. The Falcons got one back later in the first period. On a delayed penalty Dalton Prout sent the puck toward the net from the blue line, and after a mini scramble in front, Ryan Russell slid the puck past Cedrick Desjardins to make it 2-1 Crunch with 5:20 left in the period.
From there it became the Tyler Johnson show. He would find the back of the net twice in the second period. After a slew of Springfield penalties gave the Crunch an extended five-on-three power play, Johnson blasted a one timer from the left wing circle on a feed from Brett Connolly to make it 3-1 Crunch. Later in the period, Johnson scooped up a bouncing puck while the Crunch were shorthanded to start a 2-on-1 break. He faked a pass to J.T. Wyman, then shot the puck past McElhinney from the right wing side for a 4-1 Crunch lead. Springfield would cut the deficit in half on a goal from Trent Vogelhuber, making it 4-2 after two periods.
Less than seven minutes into the third, Johnson would complete the hat trick on another one timer from the left wing circle. It was his fourth goal of the series and his sixth of the playoffs. The hat trick was the first in Crunch playoff history. Boone Jenner scored just over a minute later on a redirection to make it 5-3, but the Falcons wouldn’t get any closer. Cedrick Desjardins stopped 28 of 31 shots while Curtis McElhinney allowed five goals on 25 shots. The Crunch power play went 3-for-8 while the Falcons went 0-for-7.
- Tyler Johnson is tied for the AHL's lead in postseason scoring at 13 points. With six goals and seven assists in five games, the league MVP is tied with Chris Bourque of Providence who has five goals and eight assists in seven games. Ondrej Palat is second in the league with 12 points in five games, while his nine assists lead the AHL.
- Johnson and Palat are the only players in the AHL registering over two points-per-game this postseason. Johnson's 13 points in five games leads the league with 2.60 points per game while Palat's 12 points in five games are second at 2.40. Third in the playoffs is Portland's Alexandre Bolduc who had two points in one game, 2.00.
- During the regular season, Johnson had 1.05 points per game (65 points in 62 games) to lead Syracuse. He produced the highest points-per-game mark of any player appearing in 35 games or more.
- Tyler Johnson's four-point effort in Game 2 Saturday in Springfield included the first hat trick in Syracuse Crunch postseason history. The last time a Crunch player collected four points in one postseason game was May 7, 2008, when Zenon Konopka had one goal and three assists vs. Toronto in the Conference Semifinals.
- The hat trick was the first of Johnson's postseason career. He notched his first two pro hat tricks during the 2012-13 regular season, Feb. 18 and Apr. 19. The only other time Johnson had four points in one playoff game was Game 4 of the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs when he posted two goals and two assists. In his regular season career, he's posted four points twice: Mar. 11, 2012 (1g, 3a) and Apr. 19, 2013 (3g, 1a).
- Both Johnson and Palat have scored in all five Crunch playoff games. Palat has multi-point efforts in each postseason game after 14 multi-point games in 56 regular season contests. Johnson, who led the Crunch with 19 multi-point performances in 62 regular season games, has four in the playoffs.
- Johnson leads the Calder Cup Playoffs in shorthanded goals (2) and power-play points (7). He had one shorthanded goal in the regular season, along 22 power-play points (12g, 10a)
- J.T. Brown is tied for the Calder Cup Playoffs lead in shooting percentage at 50% with two goals on four shots. Among rookies on the Crunch playoff roster, Brown's three postseason points are most.
- Brett Connolly has a four-game scoring streak with two goals and two assists in that span. Richard Panik has two goals and two assists in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- J.T. Wyman played his 50th Calder Cup Playoff game Saturday, the most of any player on the Crunch roster. The 27 year old has 16 points (4g, 12a) in his AHL postseason career, including three assists this year. He served his first career fighting major Saturday, after accumulating just 14 penalty minutes in his first 49 playoff games.
- Cedrick Desjardins is 5-0 this postseason, the only goalie with an unblemished record who's started more than one game (Brad Thiessen of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 1-0) and one of two goalies with five wins (Niklas Svedberg of Providence is 5-2). The seventh year pro has won eight consecutive games, his last three starts of the regular season and first five of the playoffs. The former Memorial Cup champion (Quebec, '06) and Kelly Cup MVP (Cincinnati, '08) is now 11-4 in 15 career Calder Cup Playoff games.
- With a 5-0 start to the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Crunch have tied a franchise record for consecutive postseason wins. The 2008 Crunch won their first five games, three vs. Philadelphia and two against Chicago, before the Wolves came back to win the Conference Semifinals in seven games.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning AHL affiliate has won 15 consecutive postseason games. The 2012 Norfolk Admirals won their final 10 playoff contests to capture the Calder Cup last season, while the 2013 Syracuse Crunch have added five to the string. The Cleveland Barons won 15 straight Calder Cup Playoff games, starting with nine in their 1964 championship season, and six more in 1966 when they lost in the Cup Final.
- Twelve players on the 2012 Norfolk postseason roster are currently listed on the Syracuse postseason roster: Angelidis, Barberio, Cote, Devos, Gudas, Hutchings, Johnson, Neilson, Nagle, Oberg, Palat and Panik. (Hutchings, Neilson and Nagle have not appeared in a game either year.)
- Syracuse is fifth in the Calder Cup Playoffs on the power play at 21.6% (8-for-37) and is fifth on the penalty kill at 85.7% (30-for-35). The team's 4.40 goals per game is second in the league behind 4.44 for Providence. With a 2.60 goals-against average, Syracuse ranks sixth.