The Crunch took to Toronto on Monday with a 3-to-2 series lead and a chance to ensure a trip to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2013. Morale in the room was high after a 5-to-1 drumming of the Marlies on Saturday at the War Memorial. But for the third time in this series, Syracuse is leaving Toronto empty-handed and disappointed after a 2-1 loss to the Marlies.
As has been the narrative of late, Syracuse got off to an impressive start in the opening period. The first five minutes of the contest were spent in the attacking zone pressuring Marlies goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has had a very inconsistent series. Toronto out-shot the Crunch 8-to-5 in the period but neither team would be able to get on the board.
The Crunch found the back of the net in the early stages of the second period to give the loud contingent of Crunch fans in attendance something to cheer for. While short-handed, Slater Koekkoek and Byron Froese did a nice job in the defensive zone to get the puck in to the neutral zone where it was all Michael Bournival from there. The speedy winger won a foot-race with Marlies forward Andreas Johnsson to go in on a mini-break and fire a shot past the blocker of Kaskisuo. The goal was Bournival’s second of the post-season.
Unfortunately for Syracuse, this is the only good thing that would come out of their penalty kill on Monday night.
At the 7:24 mark of the period, the Marlies struck gold on their fourth man-advantage of the evening. Rookie Carl Grundstrom collected the puck behind the Crunch net and while Syracuse starting goalie Mike McKenna thought the puck was going one way, quickly wrapped it around to the other side to beat McKenna clean and tie the game at one.
Again, a lack of discipline proved to be the difference maker in this series as Toronto took full advantage of the Crunch’s mistakes for a second time in the game. With just over 11 minutes gone in the third period, Marlies rookie defenseman Andrew Nielsen played pitch and catch with Seth Griffith at the middle-point before teeing up a one-timer that evaded a sea of bodies and found twine behind McKenna.
The Crunch wouldn’t be able to find the equalizer despite another solid outing from Mike McKenna who turned aside 23 out of 25 Toronto bids. Syracuse was their worst enemy on Monday night playing a very timid style through the majority of the contest. It seemed as if they were waiting for the Marlies to come to them rather than being aggressor as they have been on home ice.
The ‘Cuse handed the Marlies six man-advantages in all which proved to be a recipe for disaster. Syracuse was the most penalized team in the league in the regular season and it just so happens that Toronto posses the fourth best powerplay in the AHL in the regular season.
A winner will be determined on Wednesday when Syracuse plays host to the Marlies in game 7 of the division final.
- Jake Dotchin returned to the lineup after missing three games due to a suspension.
- Fresh off of his first goal of the playoffs on Saturday, Kevin Lynch was a healthy scratch.