Crunch Lose Early Lead, Fall to Senators 5-2

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch netted a pair of power play goals in the first period, but the Binghamton Senators had the last laugh Friday.

The Senators scored five unanswered goals in the second and third periods -- including the eventual game-winner on a controversial penalty -- as they topped the Crunch, 5-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

For Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, his team got away from the game plan and what the team did well in the first period.

"We get up by two, and then we think we're a fancy team instead of grinding it out," Zettler said. "We are what we are. We don't have high-end skill on our team. We have to manufacture goals by working hard, getting it deep and trying to plug away down there."

With the score knotted at two apiece and less than 13 minutes remaining, Syracuse forward Eric Neilson was squeezed out behind the net and collided with Binghamton goalie Nathan Lawson.

"I went to go for the puck, and made contact with the goalie unintentionally," Neilson said. "It got called."

After the referee called a penalty for goaltender interference, Neilson snapped his stick over the crossbar and received another two minutes from referee Jean-Philippe Sylvain. Zettler and Neilson both believe it should have been a 10 minute misconduct instead of a four-minute power play for the Senators.

"I thought it was a bad penalty, and I thought the unsportsmanlike call was a bad call," Zettler said. "That was a bad call by them."

"That was my fault, I let the team down there," Neilson said. "I lost my cool, I've got to be more disciplined than that. That's what hurts the most, I let my team down by taking the extra two minutes."

Mark Stone capitalized on a rebound to give Binghamton a 3-2 lead with less than 12 minutes to play. Jim O'Brien provided an insurance marker with 1:41 remaining and Mark Dziurzynski added an empty-netter in the final 13 seconds.

"That's not an excuse, that's not what it came down to," Zettler said of the call on Neilson. "It came down to details by us that weren't executed properly."

The Crunch jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period. Brett Connolly banged home a rebound at the 2:05 mark, and Cedric Paquette finished off a cross-crease pass from Jon DiSalvatore 15 minutes later. Connolly, Paquette and Taormina were also credited with assists.

"We were moving it around a little better, we've got four forwards on the unit now," Connolly said. "We've also got more personnel, (Taormina) helps, DiSalvatore helps coming in, he's a smart player."

But Binghamton evened the score with a pair of second period tallies by Mike Hoffman and Fredrik Claesson, and it was all downhill from there for Syracuse.

Kristers Gudlevskis finished with 31 saves in net for the Crunch, while Lawson had 18.

Syracuse (12-11-1-3) looks to get back on track when it travels to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday.

"It wasn't our second (period), it was our third," Connolly said. "We've got to close out games. We've got to start learning that pretty fast here."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis makes a glove save against the Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.