The Syracuse Crunch went into Laval and did something they weren’t able to do in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday - hold onto a third period lead. Goals from three different rookies and thirty saves from Eddie Pasquale led to a 4-2 Crunch victory against the Rocket. With the win, the Crunch stay within a point of the Rochester Americans.
Syracuse - Eddie Pasquale 30 saves on 32 shots
Another strong game for the veteran netminder who now has 22 wins on the season. He had a couple of highlight reel goals, but a lot of his time was spent looking through bodies in front of him. The Rocket’s game plan was to fire pucks from the point and hope for deflections or rebounds. Pasquale didn’t allow many, and his defense cleaned up the few that got away from him.
Laval - Michael McNiven 17 saves on 20 shots
McNiven didn’t have a lot of work, which is par for the course for Laval goaltenders. The Rocket haven’t allowed a lot shots this season, and Wednesday night was no different. Two of the three goals scored against him had ancillary activity that McNiven had looking at the refs. He also had a game-saving sequence in third period just prior to the Rocket’s second goal. He stopped Alex Barre-Boulet on a two-on-one and then, with his back to the shot, stopped the rebound from Alex Volkov.
The Crunch were on the power play four minutes into the second period with the score tied at one goal a piece. It wasn’t going well. They lost possession of the puck when Cal Foote made a lazy pass.
Antoine Waked had the puck along in front of Eddie Pasquale and turned to shoot. Boris Katchouk did a great job of blunting the initial attempt, but Waked got the rebound and Pasquale made a fantastic sprawling glove save. The third attempt is smothered and the Crunch are able to clear the puck.
It kept the game tied and the Crunch would eventually go ahead at the end of the period. Thirty seconds after that flurry of activity, Pasquale also made a nice save on a deflected shot by Nikita Jevpalovs. In both the first and the second periods, Laval had the early pressure and the Crunch controlled the latter halves. Key saves like that by Pasquale allowed Syracuse to stay in the game.
1. Cal Foote from Andy Andreoff (1-1)
Andreoff did all of the hard work on this goal. He skated it out of the Crunch’s zone, through neutral ice, and then found Foote in the slot for the one-timer. It was Foote’s 8th goal of the season and first since February 2nd. The rookie defenseman had a very strong first period as he made several nice plays shorthanded to relieve some pressure, and on the shift following his goal almost snuck a puck in from the point.
2. Taylor Raddysh From Ross Colton and Mitchell Stephens (2-1 Crunch) Power Play
This was some nice boardwork by Stephens and Colton on the power play. All four Laval penalty killers got caught on the left side of the ice, and Colton fired the puck to a wide open Raddysh who snapped it home from the right circle for his 16th goal of the season. The Crunch hadn’t been generating much with the extra skater, but they took advantage of the Rocket players losing track of their opponents.
3. Gabriel Dumont unassisted (3-1 Crunch)
Dumont stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in two-on-one with Cory Conacher. The captain tried to slide a pass to Conacher, but Alexandre Grenier made a nice play to break it up with his stick. Unfortunately the puck bounced up in the air and Dumont swatted it into the net for his 10th goal of the season. It was a big insurance goal for the Crunch.
4. Alex Barre-Boulet from Eddie Pasquale (4-2 Crunch) Empty net
BB banking it in for our OneGroup Insurance Goal. pic.twitter.com/QW6SjvEyH1— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 14, 2019
Pasquale stopped the puck in front of his own net and there was no pressure in front of him. For a brief moment it looked like he was going to make the simple play and just pass it to a Crunch player. Then he saw Barre-Boulet was ahead of the defense so he fired it down the ice. Barre-Boulet let it go in hopes that it would roll into the net but it went just wide. He collected the puck behind the net and then banked it off of Ouellet for the empty net goal, his 29th on the season.
1. Xavier Ouellet unassisted (1-0 Laval) Power Play
The Crunch had been doing a pretty decent job on the penalty kill prior to Ouellet’s goal. Conacher tried to rim the puck around the boards and out of the zone, but Ouellet was able to keep it in the zone. The shot itself was rather innocuous, just a wrist shot from the point, but it looks like it hit Dumont and changed direction just a bit on Pasquale.
2. Lukas Vejdemo from Jake Evans and Alex Belzile (3-2 Crunch)
The Crunch were trying to pin the puck along the boards to bleed a little time off the clock as there was less than two minutes to go and the Rocket had the goaltender pulled. Laval gained control of the puck and Grenier fired the puck to Alex Belzile, who was all alone in front of Pasquale. He tried to outwait the goaltender but Pasquale stopped his shot with his right pad. The rebound came to Jake Evans, and Pasquale stopped that shot with a scrum of players at his doorstep. Lukas Vejdemo was first to the loose puck and just beat Pasquale’s arm to get the Rocket within one goal.
Crunch power play 1-for-3
One of the chances was only about 40 seconds long, but the other two were full length opportunities and the Crunch just didn’t generate much pressure. The second unit did pick up a goal with Colton and Raddysh connecting in the second period. Laval is a tough team to generate offense against, and they did a good job of stifling the Crunch.
Crunch penalty kill 4-for-5
Laval was successful on its first chance, but the Crunch shut them down the rest of the way. Syracuse did a really good job of not allowing a lot of chances, and Laval seemed content to just try and lob shots from the point.
3. Alex Grenier - He didn’t have any points, but he set up the second goal for Laval with a nice pass and had a couple of shots. He was one of the few forwards that generated offense for the Rocket
2. Eddie Pasquale - The stop on Alain was huge. He was active all night with the puck, moving it really well and acting as an extra defenseman at times. A lot of the shots he had to stop were through traffic as Laval’s defensemen had 16 shots on net in the game.
1. Cal Foote - The goal gets a lot of the glory, but it was his play in his own zone that was most impressive. In the first period, shorthanded, he made a nice little play behind his own net as he passed it to himself to avoid the forecheck. It gave him the space to clear the puck out. He made several little plays like that to stall the Rocket attack.
- Gabriel Dumont’s goal gave the Crunch 10 players with at least 10 goals. That’s a pretty impressive was to spread the offense. It hard to keep them off of the scoreboard when they have that many players that can score consistently.
- There may be no goalie in hockey that loses his stick more than Pasquale. On the Turning Point save, he dropped the twig as soon as the first shot came in on net. There are games where it’ll leave his hand three or four times throughout the night.
- Jonne Tammela didn’t get on the score sheet, but he had a good game. On a line with Brady Brassart and Boris Katchouk the young Finn was throwing hits all over the offensive zone. He knows that the roster is really crowded right now and he has to be aggressive to keep in the line-up.
- The Crunch had one of their better games at the face-off dot. Unofficially they won 60.3% of the draws (32 of 53). In the third period Brassart went 4 of 5 and Stephens was 5 of 6. Winning draws was key to slowing down Laval’s comeback.
The Crunch return home on Friday to take on the Hartford Wolfpack at 7:00pm. Syracuse still trails Rochester by a point in the lead for the North Division, but they have also crept within three points of the Charlotte Checkers for the lead in the Eastern Conference.