Crunch's Streak Snapped By Devils, 3-1

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite controlling the play for the first 40 minutes, the Syracuse Crunch entered the third period in a scoreless tie.

The Crunch led the Albany Devils in shots, 26-11, and rang several shots off the pipes behind netminder Jeff Frazee, but were unable to land the proverbial knockout blow.

Albany countered with a pair of goals one minute apart in the third to upend Syracuse, 3-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday night. The loss snaps an eight-game winning streak for the Crunch, who still pace the Eastern Conference with 74 points.

"I thought we played well enough to win, but we had a few mistakes that cost us," said Syracuse forward Brett Connolly. "That was the difference in the game."

The Crunch outshot the Devils 14-5 in the first period and 12-6 in the second. They poured on the pressure, but the tremendous offense that carried them through the last part of February came up empty.

"They're not going to go in for you every single night," Connolly said. "You've got to keep working at it. Tonight they didn't want to go in for us."

Albany's Chris McKelvie flicked in a rebound on an Alexander Urbom shot to open the scoring nine minutes into the third, and Darcy Zajac capitalized on a Syracuse miscommunication behind the net a little more than a minute later.

"We just broke down a bit in the third," said Crunch defenseman Mark Barberio. "I still thought we played alright. There were just a few shifts where we just missed some assignments and had some miscommunication. That's all it takes."

Connolly put Syracuse on the board with less than three minutes to play, pouncing on a puck Tyler Johnson put out in front. Before the potential Crunch rally could get rolling, Zajac struck the final blow with an empty-netter.

Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins turned away 23 shots, but his home shutout streak was stopped just shy of 170 minutes. Frazee finished with 37 saves.

"That's going to happen in the course of a season," Barberio said of Frazee. "You're going to run into a goalie who's got your number."

Syracuse (34-15-2-4) hosts Rochester Saturday in the second part of a three-game weekend. Barberio sees the positives in having an opportunity to rebound quickly.

"We were on a good roll," he said. "Now we get a chance to start a new one tomorrow."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins slides to make a save against the Devils' Mike Hoeffel at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.