After allowing a pair of power play goals in the first 16 minutes, the Syracuse Crunch searched for momentum.
A big fight at the end of the first period, a penalty shot at the beginning of the second and line juggling provided sparks that were quickly snuffed out.
But after Syracuse netted two goals in the first five minutes of the third, the Crunch came alive. Syracuse scored four unanswered goals in the final frame to stun the Norfolk Admirals, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"There were times during the game, like after the (Jonathan) Marchessault goal and after the (Eric) Neilson fight, like we had the momentum, but we let it slip away," said Crunch forward Dalton Smith, who finished with a pair of goals. "That third (period), we didn't let it slip away."
Sloppy. Exciting. Annoying. Fun.
Evgeni Nabokov allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the victory. He's lucky he got 7 goals of support, because he was bad again tonight. He had way too many problems following the puck and looked scrambley and positionally weak in his crease. He made it a lot harder on his team by allowing the soft goal to Johansen to start the Third Period and give Columbus life when they should have been DOA.
5:46 TB Brown (1), (Garrison, Sustr)
6:07 TB Paquette (3), (Drouin, Namestnikov)
12:31 TB Stralman (2), (Callahan, Stamkos)(PP)
14:41 TB Boyle (5), (Morrow, Brown)
4:11 CBJ Hartnell (4), (Wisniewski, Erixon)(PP)
5:38 TB Callahan (5), (Filppula, Gudas)
8:10 CBJ Hartnell (5), (Foligno, Johansen)(PP)
10:05 TB Johnson (3), (Kucherov, Drouin)(PP)
1:01 CBJ Johansen (6), (Gibbons, Wisniewski)
5:10 CBJ Foligno (7), (Wisniewski, Erixon)(PP)
19:09 TB Johnson (4), (Callahan)(EN)
The Lightning did what they needed to do coming out hard in the First Period to establish a comfortable lead against a team that is down and played a game last night. That 4 goal lead was crucial to establish given how poor the team's goaltending was tonight, which was perhaps accentuated by the team taking their foot off the gas at times with the big lead. It's a big 2 points to get as it gets them to 8 in this 10 game segment, leaving them needing just 4 points in the next 6 games to hit the segment target and a golden opportunity to rack up a bushel of insurance points. It's a good spot to be in with the sledding about to get harder starting tomorrow night with Detroit and then heading on to play teams like Chicago and San Jose.
Just a point of record keeping, though: Columbus showed a noted lack of class with Johansen slashing Tyler Johnson in the ribs on his EN goal and Hartnell sucker punching him after it. The sore losers got exactly what they deserved tonight, and the next time the Lightning play Columbus I wouldn't be opposed to adding some muscle for that game to make sure someone gets fitted for a (figurative) toe tag for what happened at the end of tonight's tilt. The Lightning have been very good at making their opponents pay what they owe over the last year or so in cases like this, and I hope they extract a heavy price from Hartnell and the Blue Jackets in the payback department, too (although that touchdown that got hung on them tonight probably stings plenty enough).
Scary thought for the rest of the NHL: the Lightning are on a 5 game winning streak and Steven Stamkos has sleepwalked through most of those 5 games and Hedman's been on the shelf. Ponder that.
Cedric Paquette had another goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 12:36. His goal came on a rebound where he showed some quick, sharp hands on a sift directly after a goal scored for, and he could've had 1-2 other goals including a nice play where he handled the puck well to work himself free for a backhand shot in the slot late in the Second Period. His skating is obviously not his strength, but he's got a very underrated set of mitts on him. Oh, and he was 63% on draws, too.
Jonathan Drouin had a pair of helpers and was +1 with 1 shot in 11:54. What's funny about Drouin is that he just quietly continues to rack up helpers and points. He's at 7 points in 9 games despite averaging just 14:22 of ice time a game. He's going to grow from here in ice time and points. Terrifying.
Vladislav Namestnikov had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 11:42. His offensive zone "holding" call was fraudulent, as the refs were looking to let Columbus back into the game in the Second Period after the Lightning established their early 4 goal lead.
Turning point of the early season?
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the win. He wasn't good, and gave up a couple of questionable goals. But, the Crunch had his back in the Third Period tonight.
NOR Theodore, (2) (Wagner, Sarault), 5:47 (PP)
NOR Theodore, (3) (Winchester), 15:10 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (5) , 6:15 (PS)
NOR Leblanc, (2) (Sarault, Kerdiles), 15:32
NOR Blacker, (1) (Steckel, O'Brien), 17:29
SYR Smith, (3) (Angelidis, Koekkoek), 3:51
SYR Gourde, (1) (Richard), 4:32
SYR Smith, (4) (Cote, Blujus), 14:38
SYR Gourde, (2) (Richard, Paradis), 15:23
Yanni Gourde, Dalton Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault were the game's three stars. Gourde gets the monkey off his back in a big way after not potting a goal all season by getting 2, including the game winner.
Being down 3 goals in the Third Period in pro hockey is supposed to be a death sentence. Teams in that position seem to lose 98-99% of the time. It's a rare and sometimes galvanizing thing if a team can come back against those odds, and a hugely demoralizing thing to the team that blows that kind of lead. So, for Syracuse to overcome those odds tonight is no small thing, and is likely to give them some momentum as a team that they can carry forward from here on out into the season. Big, big win.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out the role Tanner Richard played in the comeback, as the next wave of Lightning prospects starts to step it up.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Khanty-Mansiysk 3 vs. Cherepovets 1
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season totals: 22 GP, 8-4-12, -1, 6 PIM
Nikita Gusev assisted on the game-winning, power play goal in Yugra's 3-1 victory over Cherepovets. He played 16:10 in the contest. Ex-Sharks first rounder Lukas Kaspar also had a helper, but he also took a match penalty in the game, as well.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Drummondville Voltigeurs 2 @ Quebec Remparts 6
W Adam Erne, QUE: 2-1-3, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 5 Hits, *First Star*
Season totals: 14 GP, 13-10-23, +13, 18 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM
Erne had two goals, one coming on an early deflection and the other scored shorthanded into an empty net. Quebec scored the game’s final four goals to break a 2-2 tie.
Ontario Hockey League
Sarnia Sting 2 @ Erie Otters 5
D Anthony DeAngelo, SAR: 0-0-0, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 12 GP, 3-11-14, -1, 32 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM
Sarnia faced Connor McDavid (2015 likely first overall pick) and the mighty Otters and only managed 16 shots on goal. They scored on two of them, but lost, 5-2. McDavid had three assists in the game. DeAngelo had two slashing minors and a hooking penalty.
Windsor Spitfires 3 @ London Knights 5
W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, -1, 5 PIM
Season totals: 11 GP, 5-2-7, -3, 24 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM
DiGiacinto fought Aiden Jamieson of London early in the first period. He played on the second line and was on the second power play unit. Coyotes first rounder (2013) Max Domi, son of former Leaf tough guy Tie Domi, had a hat trick and four points for London.
Peterborough Petes 2 @ Kitchener Rangers 8
D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 15 GP, 3-5-8, -6, 31 PIM
2013-14 totals: 39 GP, 2-19-21, +6, 102 PIM
The Rangers put up a snowman at home against the Petes. Kitchener scored four times in the first period and were up 7-0 entering the third.
Western Hockey League
Medicine Hat Tigers 4 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 3 (OT)
C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Season totals: 16 GP, 8-14-22, +9, 14 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 36-55-91, -27, 53 PIM
Moose Jaw won for the first time in six games, hanging on to beat Calgary, 2-1. Neither Lightning prospect registered a point.
Calgary Hitmen 5 @ Regina Pats 3
D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-3-3, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 18 GP, 2-8-10, +1, 12 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM
Thomas (pictured) set a personal best for most assists and points in one game as Calgary beat Regina, 5-3.