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Crunch offense sputters in game 1 loss to St. John’s

It wasn't quite the start to the playoffs the Crunch were hoping for as they were downed 2-to-1 by the IceCaps.

Photo by Scott Thomas

With a lineup as talented as the one the Syracuse Crunch boasts at the moment, it was only a matter of time before IceCaps goaltender Charlie Lindgren was peppered with shots. The bad news for Syracuse is that by the time they started controlling play, the IceCaps already had a two-goal lead and their rookie netminder refused to let that lead dissipate.

The Crunch had four man-advantage opportunities in the opening period and could barely get set up in the attacking zone on any of them. The IceCaps did a great job of pushing the Crunch attack to the perimeter and forcing any potential shots to come from poor angles on the outside of the zone. Then late in the first period, it was the home team that would strike first to send the faithful at the Mile High Center into a frenzy.

On St. John’s first shot of their first powerplay opportunity, the Habs' 2014 first round pick Nikita Scherbak buried a shot from the mid-slot past Crunch starting goalie Mike McKenna. Caps offensive juggernauts Charles Hudon and Jacob De La Rose picked up the helpers on the play that gave the IceCaps a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room.

It didn't take long for the bad guys to extend their lead to two goals. Just 2:59 into the second period, Hudon sent a silky saucer pass from deep in the left-wing corner to a streaking Chris Terry who finished the play on a helpless McKenna.

Syracuse turned it up a notch for the remainder of the middle frame, putting together a string of quality looks. Lindgren was a wall between the pipes turning aside everything Syracuse had to offer. On the other end of the ice, McKenna was forced to make a couple of really impressive stops to keep the Crunch within striking distance.

Finally, at the mid-way point of the regulation period, after failing to cash in on their four previous man-advantages, the Crunch found the score sheet. After some hard work by Brett Howden to shield the puck away from defenders and keep the zone, the puck ended up finding Tye McGinn in the high slot where he went bar-down to cut the lead to one.

The “baby bolts” would continue to mount pressure against Lindgren and company for the rest of the contest but would ultimately fall short by a final score of 2-to-1. Lindgren stopped 28 out of 29 Crunch bids to secure the victory and first star of the game honors. His counterpart Mike McKenna turned aside 19 out of 21 shots in a losing effort but was named the third star of the game.

Syracuse will not have to wait long to try and tie up the series at one game apiece. The teams are back in action on Saturday at 6pm EST.

Boxscore

*Gifs are courtesy of @scottmatla & IceCapsAHL on twitter.