Penguins Snap Crunch's Win Streak, 5-3

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jumped out to an early lead and held on to snap the Syracuse Crunch's three-game win streak, 5-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

The Penguins scored three times in the first period against Crunch goalie Riku Helenius, who played in his first game since being injured Oct. 19.

"I thought we were rolling a little bit in the first period, and I felt good about it," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "Then they had a goal, and boom-boom, they followed it up with a couple more."

Simon Despres ripped a quick shot from the left wing circle past Helenius on the short side at the 2:26 mark.

Jason Megna added a 4-on-4 goal five minutes later, and Chris Conner scored on a tip during a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton power play with 15 seconds remaining in the first.

"I didn't think the chances were crazy, I didn't think the shots were crazy," Zettler said. "They capitalized on some mistakes by us and that was the game. It seemed like the opportunities they had, they were able to bury them."

Vladislav Namestnikov put Syracuse on the board and kept his 13-game point streak in tact with a goal 7:29 into the second. Nikita Kucherov and Jean-Philippe Cote each had an assist.

"I saw (Kucherov) driving on the right side and I joined the rush and he found me," Namestnikov said. "I just had to put it in."

The Penguins responded with a goal by Tom Kostopolous five minutes later, but Evan Rankin scored off of a face-off win by Cedric Paquette to cut the Crunch deficit back to two before the second intermission.

Brian Gibbons returned the momentum back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a goal less than two minutes into the final frame.

"Some of us got a little casual, weren't as prepared mentally as we should have been," Cote said. "It all comes down to the mistakes."

Syracuse responded with 9:22 remaining when Danick Gauthier finished off a feed from Namestnikov, but couldn't complete the comeback.

"If you give them chances, good teams are going to score," Namestnikov said. "They're a good team and they capitalized on the chances they had. We scored three and they scored five, that's why we lost."

Helenius finished with 22 saves, while Penguins netminder Jeff Deslauriers had 24.

Syracuse (9-4-1-0) looks to get back on track when it hosts Albany Saturday.

"Hopefully some of our guys learned a little bit of a lesson here tonight, where you have to be ready to play against good teams," Zettler said.

Pictured: Crunch forward Vladislav Namestnikov guards the puck against a Penguins defender at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.