- The Calder Cup Finals return to Syracuse Tuesday for Game 6 after consecutive Crunch wins in Grand Rapids.
- Syracuse is the first team in AHL history to win two road elimination games in same Calder Cup Finals.
- Ondrej Palat's 25 points (7g, 18a) are most in the AHL this postseason and third in Crunch playoff history.
Calder Cup finals
(E3) Syracuse Crunch vs. (W3) Grand Rapids Griffins - GR 3, SYR 2
Game 1 - Sat., June 8 - Grand Rapids at Syracuse - L, 3-1
Game 2 - Sun., June 9 - Grand Rapids at Syracuse - L, 6-4
Game 3 - Wed., June 12 - Syracuse at Grand Rapids - L, 4-2
Game 4 - Fri., June 14 - Syracuse at Grand Rapids - W, 3-2
Game 5 - Sat., June 15 - Syracuse at Grand Rapids - W, 5-2
Game 6 - Tue., June 18 - Grand Rapids at Syracuse - 7:00 p.m.
*Game 7 - Thu., June 20 - Grand Rapids at Syracuse - 7:00 p.m
Crunch force Calder Cup Finals back to Syracuse
The Syraucuse Crunch host Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals Tuesday at the War Memorial against the Grand Rapids Griffins needing a victory to keep their season alive. After losing the first three games of the Finals, Syracuse won in Grand Rapids Friday, 3-2, and Saturday, 5-2, and hopes to become the first team in AHL history to force a Game 7 after trailing the Calder Cup Finals, 3-0. A Syracuse win Tuesday would force a winner-take-all Game 7 Thursday at the War Memorial. Three times in league history has a team won a best-of-seven series after losing its first three games, including the 2013 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Syracuse is the first team in AHL history to win two road elimination games in same Calder Cup Finals.
The Crunch managed to bounce back in the series thanks in large part to goalie Cedrick Desjardins who earned his 12th and 13th playoff wins last week, stopping 66 of 70 Grand Rapids shots in the last two games, a 0.943 save percentage. The Syracuse offense clicked into high gear, too, unleashing five goals in Game 5 Saturday, its greatest output since a 7-0 win over the Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Syracuse's Johnson-Palat-Panik line has nine points in the last two games, with Panik potting the game-winning goal in each. Palat, Panik and Mark Barberio lead the Crunch with five points in the Calder Cup Finals, with Johnson and J.P. Cote at four.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Calder Cup Finals Game 3:
The Grand Rapids Griffins beat the Crunch, 4-2, Wednesday in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The win gave the Griffins a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
For the first time in the series, the Crunch struck first, as Richard Panik scored his sixth goal of the playoffs at 10:21 of the first period. The lead would last through the end of the first period, but the Griffins erased it early in the second period.
Tomas Tatar scored his 13th of the playoffs just 2:09 into the second period to even the game at 1-1, and Luke Glendening followed that up at 4:53 with the go-ahead goal for Grand Rapids. It marked the first time Syracuse fell behind after taking a lead this postseason. A Dan Sexton point shot re-tied the game, 2-2, five minutes later.
Grand Rapids scored the only two goals in the third frame. Jan Mursak got the eventual game-winning goal with 4:49 left in regulation, crashing the net and deflecting in a centering pass from captain Jeff Hoggan. An insurance goal from Hoggan at 2:28 capped the scoring on a 4-2 Griffins win.
Grand Rapids outshot Syracuse, 29-28, and both were 0-for-4 on the power play in front of a crowd of 10,102.
Calder Cup Finals Game 4:
The Crunch extended their season with a 3-2 win Friday night in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The Crunch still trail the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
The Griffins got off to a quick start in Game 4. Joakim Andersson beat Cedrick Desjardins just 3:37 into the opening period to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead. The lead was short lived, as Brett Connolly answered just 1:27 later to even the score at one. But Jan Mursak once again put the Griffins ahead, with a goal at 11:04 of the first, giving Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead at intermission.
The Crunch turned the game around in the second period. Ondrej Palat tied up the game with a goal with just under six minutes remaining in the period. Then Richard Panik, who assisted on Palat’s goal, scored his seventh of the playoffs just 2:51 later to put the Crunch ahead 3-2.
That goal stood as the game winner, as the Crunch survived a late rally by the Griffins. In the waning seconds, the Griffins emerged from a scramble in front of the Crunch net celebrating an apparent goal, but video review confirmed the officials' original call, and the Crunch hung on for a 3-2 win. The Griffins outshot the Crunch 28-24, while the Crunch went 0-for-6 on the power play and the Griffins went 0-for-5.
Calder Cup Finals Game 5:
Cedrick Desjardins made 40 saves and the Crunch power play came to life with two goals as the Crunch beat the Griffins, 5-2, in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals in Grand Rapids Saturday night. The Griffins still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 as it shifts back to Syracuse for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7.
The Crunch got off to a fast start in the first period. Ondrej Palat capitalized on a Griffins turnover to score an unassisted goal at 8:39 of the first for a 1-0 Crunch lead. Brett Connolly helped build on the lead by converting atip-in off a feed from Tyler Johnson for a 2-0 lead. Triston Grant got one back for the Griffins a minute and a half later, to cut the Crunch lead to 2-1 after one period.
A Tomas Tatar power-play goal early in the second tied the game at two, but the Crunch power play answered back. Richard Panik cashed in with 8:01 left in the second to put the Crunch back in front 3-2. Then in the third, Tyler Johnson gave the Crunch their second two-goal lead just 36 seconds into the final frame. Dan Sexton finished it off with an empty-net goal for a 5-2 final score.
Cedrick Desjardins stopped 40 shots, including 19 in the second period, as the Crunch were outshot for the third straight game. The Crunch were 2-for-5 on the power play while the Griffins went 1-for-3.
- The Crunch are 5-1 in postseason games when Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik all mark the score sheet. Johnson, Palat and Panik combined for six points in Game 5, the fourth highest total of combined points among the three in a game this postseason. The trio recorded nine points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Springfield, led by Johnson’s four points (3g, 1a).
- Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist in Game 5 of the Finals, his fifth multi-point game of the playoffs, and first since May 11 against Springfield, Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The AHL MVP began the playoffs with multi-point efforts in four of the first five games after turning in 19 multi-point games in 62 regular season games, a team best.
- Richard Panik has goals in four straight games, one of three players who strung together goals in four games this postseason (Mark Arcobello, OKC; Trevor Smith, WBS). Panik pulled off that feat twice in the regular season, Nov. 17-24 and Dec. 31-Jan. 9. Panik's last two goals were game-winners, giving him four game-winning goals in the postseason after six during the regular season. The ten combined are most on the Crunch.
- After his one goal and two assists in Game 5, Ondrej Palat now has points in 13 playoff games this spring, including 8 multi-point performances and 4 three-point games. The Crunch are 12-1 in games when he collects a point, with the only loss coming in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals.
- Cedrick Desjardins has more wins, 13, than any goalie in Crunch postseason history. Karl Goehring is the previous record holder at nine wins, though Goehring owns the Crunch record for career postseason appearances by a goalie, 18. The most career postseason wins in Crunch history include: C. Desjardins, 13-4 ('13); K. Goehring, 9-8 ('04, '08); J. Labbe, 8-7 ('01, '02); M. Fountain, 7-9 ('96, '97).
- Brett Connolly scored goals in Game 4 and in Game 5 at Grand Rapids, his fifth and sixth of the playoffs. It’s the first time he’s recorded goals in back-to-back games this postseason after seven times in the regular season. He was the Crunch’s second leading goal scorer with 31 markers during the regular season.
- Vlad Namestnikov had one assist in Game 5, and the Crunch are now 5-0 when he has at least one point during the playoffs. Namestnikov has two goals-both game winners in the Conference Final-and four assists in his rookie postseason.
- Matt Taormina owns the best plus-minus during the Calder Cup Playoffs at plus-18 and is a plus-22 since returning to the Crunch from the Tampa Bay Lightning Apr. 9. He was a plus-10 during the regular season.
- The Crunch have trailed a best-of-seven series, 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Syracuse twice in franchise history. In 2002, the Crunch beat the Chicago Wolves, 6-0, in Game 6 to force a Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals. In 2006, the Manitoba Moose beat the Crunch 3-2 in overtime to beat the Crunch, 4-2, in the North Division Semifinals.