THREE-GOAL THIRD POWERS CRUNCH PAST PENGUINS
SYRACUSE, NY. – The Syracuse Crunch tallied three times in the third period, twice on the power play and once shorthanded, en route to a 5-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night at the War Memorial at OnCenter.
Just 56 seconds into the game, after hard work in the offensive zone, the Penguins’ Joe Vitale was whistled for a neutral zone tripping call. The Crunch would capitalize at 1:48 when defenseman Brent Regner one-timed a cross-ice pass from Derek MacKenzie past John Curry for the 1-0 lead. Fellow blueliner Nick Holden would give Syracuse a 2-0 advantage at 12:01, when his wrist shot from the center point found its way through a screen and inside the right post.
The Crunch kept the number of Penguins odd-man rushes down through the first half of the game, but the visitors would finally capitalize at 14:58 of the second. Tim Wallace one-touched a pass from neutral ice to Dustin Jeffrey, who took off down the left boards two-on-one. He centered the puck to Mark Letestu who was driving the middle of the lane. Letestu tipped a shot through the pads of Crunch netminder Kevin Lalande and allowed the Penguins to cut their deficit to 2-1.
The Penguins were unable to cash in on a man-advantage chance early in the third period, and then took two consecutive penalties on which the Crunch were able to capitalize. Brendan Bell sent a slap shot over the left shoulder of Curry at 9:04 for the insurance goal, and newly-acquired forward Chad Kolarik followed that up by stuffing a shot around Curry from the left corner with the Crunch on a two-man advantage to make it 4-1.
The Penguins would have a chance to get back in the game when Jared Aulin was sent off for hooking at 16:01, but Dan Fritsche was able to gather a bouncing puck in the neutral zone and score on a breakaway for a 5-1 Crunch lead.
The line of Wade Brookbank, Jesse Boulerice, and Zach Sill were on patrol in the game’s final minute, and were able to score when Sill one-timed a Boulerice pass from the corner behind Lalande with 28 seconds left in regulation.
The Penguins outshot the Crunch 37-27 in the game. Lalande stopped 35 shots to improve to 19-17-2. Curry made 22 saves but fell to 21-17-1. The Penguins were 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ended up winning the eight-game season series by going 5-3-0-0 against the Crunch, and lost at the OnCenter for just the first time this season.
The Penguins will head to Giant Center to battle the Hershey Bears tomorrow, March 6th at 7:00 pm. The team will return home on Wednesday March 10th, for a 7:05 pm battle with the Albany River Rats.