Crunch Fall to Devils in Shootout, 2-1

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cedrick Desjardins stopped 32 shots during regulation and overtime, as well as three out of four shootout attempts, but the Syracuse Crunch fell to the Albany Devils, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"Cedrick was the reason we got one point tonight," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "We gave up a number of Grade A chances, including breakaways and point blank shots that we normally don't give up...He came up huge for us."

"We battled hard, gave everything we've got," Desjardins said. "But we fell a little short."

After a scoreless first period, Albany's Reece Scarlett opened the scoring with a power play goal with 2:05 left in the second.

The Crunch wasted no time responding. Jean-Philippe Cote's sprung Nikita Kucherov, who lasered a shot over Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid 24 seconds later. Kucherov is tied for the league in scoring (24 points), and Cote is on a five-game point streak.

"It was a sick shot," Desjardins said of Kucherov. "I've seen those in practice many times. He's an unbelievable player."

"It was huge to get that one back right away," Zettler said. "We were on the penalty kill, we got tired and extended and they snuck a shot in from the point. Kucherov, as he's done all year for us, came back and answered the bell for us."

Both teams had surged but neither could pull ahead in the third period or overtime.

The wild last minute of the extra frame had a puck squeak just past Desjardins, but was cleared out by defenseman Luke Witkowski. On the other end, Syracuse's Mike Angelidis nearly jammed a puck home before the horn.

The Devils' Reid Boucher scored the lone shootout goal, snapping the Crunch's perfect shootout record this season. Keith Kinkaid had 29 saves before the shootout, and stopped all five Crunch attempts.

"I kind of lost balance, and I gave him the low blocker," Desjardins said of Boucher's goal. "He took it."

Syracuse, missing three of its top five scorers, had to call up another player from the Florida Everblades earlier in the day after Dana Tyrell was sidelined with an upper body injury. Carl Nielsen was recalled one day after Jordan Henry was signed to a professional tryout.

"We faced a lot of adversity, a lot of new guys and a new system for them," Desjardins said. "So we've got to keep it simple and, on our part, we've got to find a way to win those games."

Syracuse (9-4-1-1) plays its next game against Hamilton at the Bell Centre in Montreal Friday.

"It will be an exciting thing for the guys to look forward to," Zettler said. "It's a big deal playing in Montreal at the Bell Centre. A lot of kids grow up in Canada and realize it's a big thing. We'll have a lot of fun with it, but it won't change the gameplan."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins makes a save against the Devils at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.