SPRINGFIELD, Mass – The Syracuse Crunch defeated the Springfield Falcons 5-2 tonight to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals tonight at the Mass Mutual Center.
Five Crunch skaters scored and ten players found their name on the scoresheet and Crunch netminder Cedrick Desjardins stopped 22 of 24 shots for his fourth win of this post-season.
The Crunch scored four goals on eight shots for a three-goal lead after the first 20 minutes of play. Defenseman Mark Barberio opened the scoring with a power-play tally 8:40 into the first. Barberio corralled the rebound of a Richard Panik shot and beat Falcons netminder Curtis McElhinney with a wrist shot for a 1-0 Crunch lead.
Panik found the back of the Falcons net just 20 seconds later to double the Crunch lead. Left wing Ondrej Palat was called for slashing following the Crunch goal and Falcons center Boone Jenner scored on the ensuing power play to cut Syracuse’s lead to 2-1.
JT Brown reclaimed the Crunch’s two goal lead beating McElhinney with a low shot from the slot at the 11:26 mark of the first frame. Brown’s goal assisted by JT Wyman and Dmitry Korobov. Brett Connolly capped the first period scoring by stuffing the rebound of a Dan Sexton shot past McElhinney with 1:47 to play in the period.
The Falcons replaced McElhinney with Allen York after AHL MVP Tyler Johnson gave the Crunch a 5-1 lead on nine shots. Johnson’s goal was scored with 9:50 to play in the second period and assisted by Palat.
Falcons cut the score to 5-2 on a power-play tally from Ryan Craig with 1.3 seconds remaining in the third period. York stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief of McElhinney.
The Falcons host the Crunch for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at the Mass Mutual Center.
CRUNCHABLES: Brendan Mikkelson returned to action tonight after missing 11 games due to injury…Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Dan Sexton have at least one point in each game this post-season…Johnson has at least a point in each of the seven games he has played since returning from the Lightning on April 12…The Tyler Johnson/Richard Panik/Ondrej Palat line combined for seven points in tonight’s game…