Crunch Out-Dueled By Sens in Shootout

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was a proverbial staring contest, and neither netminder blinked.

Twenty scoreless minutes turned into 40, and before either the Syracuse Crunch or the Binghamton Senators were able to light the lamp, regulation had passed.

With 67 saves split between them, Robin Lehner stonewalled the Crunch and Dustin Tokarski came up big against the Senators, each keeping the game scoreless through an extra five minutes.

Stephane Da Costa was the first and only one to break through, scoring the lone shootout goal for Binghamton, as Syracuse dropped its fourth straight, 1-0, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

"When it comes to a shootout, it's anyone's ballgame," Tokarski said. "Whether you're first place in the league or last place in the league…It's a game of inches, and it was a close game. They came ready to play and they got the two points."

An end-to-end game with both teams taking turns pouring on the pressure, the Crunch peppered Lehner with more than a dozen shots in each period. Before the shootout, Lehner turned away all 40 of Syracuse's shots.

"When you get 40 shots on a goalie, you expect a few of those to go in," Crunch forward Tyler Johnson said. "Obviously, we didn't have a perfect game, but you can't be disappointed with the effort we gave tonight."

The Crunch knew Lehner's capabilities coming into the game, and despite creating traffic, seemed snakebitten.

"He's going to make the first save; we're trying to get rebound chances and get in tight - screens and deflections," Johnson said. "It didn't go our way. The bounces didn't go to the sticks where sometimes they do."

Tokarski's performance was just as good. He caught deflected pucks in close, and robbed Senators forward Derek Grant on the doorstep in the waning seconds of overtime, his 27th and final save before the shootout.

The Senators converted on one of its four chances, while the Crunch's JT Wyman, Ondrej Palat, Brett Connolly, Alex Killorn, and Johnson each came up empty.

"We're trying to get back on the winning track," Johnson said of the team's current four-game losing streak. "It's uncharacteristic of our team; we're not happy with ourselves."

Syracuse (24-10-2-4) hosts St. John's Saturday. The last time the Crunch hosted the IceCaps, they blew a four-goal lead and lost in overtime.

"That game is in the past," Tokarski said. "We know we lost and we know we had a lead; that stuff happens. We'll go out, stick to our systems, have our game plan, and hopefully come out with the two points."

Pictured: Crunch forward Alex Killorn walks the blueline on the power play against the Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.