Connolly, Crunch Rout Devils, 6-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

With five of its top 10 scorers out of the lineup, the Syracuse Crunch still made due.

Brett Connolly registered a pair of goals and assists and 12 Crunch players showed up on the scoresheet -- including four with multiple points -- as Syracuse routed the Albany Devils, 6-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday night.

"It's one of those nights, everything was going well and we got a little lucky," Connolly said.

The league-leading Crunch, who had AHL points leader Tyler Johnson called up earlier in the week, have registered a point in four straight games.

Johnson recorded his first NHL goal for the Lightning Saturday, along with teammate Ondrej Palat. Eleven players from Syracuse have seen ice time Tampa Bay this season.

Connolly opened the scoring for the Crunch a little more than six minutes into the game, putting home a pass from Vladislav Namestnikov.

"Vladdy did all the work there," Connolly said. "He was pressuring and made a good play out in front. I was fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time."

Jean-Philippe Cote added a goal 30 seconds later, and Richard Panik recorded a power play goal midway through the frame to give Syracuse a 3-0 lead after one.

"You have those nights where you play so well and you don't get rewarded, then tonight the team played well and the power play was going," Connolly said.

With the tone set, Syracuse continued to pour on the pressure in the second. JT Brown, Philip-Michael Devos and Connolly each registered a goal in the middle stanza to give the Crunch a commanding lead going into the final 20 minutes.

Devos finished with a goal and an assist, while Mike Angelidis and Namestnikov each had a pair of helpers.

Namestnikov has registered multiple points in two straight games.

"We were getting the puck deep and grinding it out down there and getting pucks on the net," he said.

The Devils scored a pair of goals in the third to spoil Riku Helenius' shutout bid. Dan Kelly scored with 12 minutes to play, and Joe Whitney added another less than five minutes later.

Helenius finished with 28 saves. Albany's Scott Wedgewood made 15 saves on 21 shots in the first 40 minutes, while Keith Kinkaid turned aside all seven Syracuse shots in relief.

"We let off in the third," Connolly said. "We're going to use that as a learning experience. You've got to play the whole 60 minutes. Riku played so well."

"We just had to stick to the system and play to the last minute," Namestnikov said. "They got two goals, but we still got the win."

Syracuse (37-17-3-5) continues its five-game homestead when it hosts Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wednesday. The Crunch looks to continue to show it can continue to win even with the call-ups.

"We're just trying to find our game here," Connolly said. "We're playing well enough to win most nights, and we've got to keep it rolling here. It's easy to stay on a roll than get on a roll."

Pictured: Crunch forward Brett Connolly, center, is congratulated by teammates after his first period goal against the Devils at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.