Vasilevskiy Records Shutout in Crunch's Win Over Americans

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch gave Andei Vasilevskiy little room for error.

Jerome Samson put the Crunch ahead 17 minutes into the game and the score remained the same until the final minute, when Vladislav Namestnikov sealed the win with an empty-netter. Vasilevskiy finished with 34 saves for his first American Hockey League shutout in a 2-0 win over the Rochester Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"Very hard game, because if you make a mistake, it's a tie game and it's very hard," Vasilevskiy said.

Vasilevskiy credited the defense in front of him for blocking shots. When the pucks did make it through a crowd, Vasilevskiy was able to fight them off.

"We work a lot on screened shots in practice, and it helped me in the game," Vasilevskiy said.

Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said Vasilevskiy was solid.

"I don't think he was tested a bunch," Zettler said. "I think we might have held them to 10 or under scoring chances, but when he needed to be there, he was there."

Samson netted his first goal in a Crunch uniform with less than three minutes left in the first period. The veteran winger drove to the net and had a Namestnikov shot from the top of the circles tip off him. Cody Kunyk also had an assist.

Samson, who had a 20-game drought coming into the contest Saturday, is hoping the goal gets things rolling for him offensively.

"I guess I needed a lucky bounce, a little bit off me," Samson said. "I didn't really see it go in. I drove the net -- I was the middle guy -- and I went hard to the net and it went off my stick a little bit. Not much, but just enough to get by his glove."

Samson was scratched for the second time this season on Friday. He couldn't remember the last time he was healthy and out of the lineup before this season.

"There were no regrets on my part," Samson said. "Whatever is in my control, I do my best day in, day out."

Samson saw more ice time as the game progressed.

Forward Philippe Paradis didn't return after getting slashed in the hand before a face-off, and captain Mike Angelidis went to the dressing room after being high sticked in the head. Angelidis tried to return with a cage, but played one shift and left the ice again.

Zettler didn't have updates on either player after the game.

The Crunch rolled three lines through most of the final two periods, and killed off multiple penalties without two of their best penalty killers.

Namestnikov finally provided Syracuse with an insurance goal with 13 seconds left. Nikita Nesterov had the assist on the empty net goal.

Rochester's Andrey Makarov made 33 saves in the loss.

"If it wasn't, it was very close to our best game of the year from start to finish," Zettler said. "I thought we were moving the puck really well, I thought we were coming out of our end really well. We played a pretty clean hockey game."

Winners of three straight, Syracuse (13-7-3-0) travels to Springfield Wednesday for the first of three games next week. The Falcons won their 11th straight by topping Hartford in the shootout Saturday.

"My focus now is Springfield," Zettler said. "They've won 10 in a row, that's next on our list. It would be nice to reel them back to us a little bit on Wednesday."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a save against the Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.