Crunch push Penguins to the brink


The Syracuse Crunch are one win away from the Calder Cup Finals after a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night.

The Crunch lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals series three games to one, and are heading back home for Game 5 on Saturday night (7 ET, AHL Live).

Wilkes-Barre grabbed its first lead since the end of Game 1 when Scott Harrington wristed a shot from the high slot past Cedrick Desjardins for a power-play goal at 13:40 of the first period. Harrington, a second-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2011, was making his professional debut after completing his fourth season of junior hockey with London of the OHL.

Brendan Mikkelson tied the game for Syracuse just 1:17 later when his shot from the right point got through traffic and beat Brad Thiessen. It was Mikkelson’s second goal of the playoffs and of the series.

The Penguins regained the lead with 3:20 to play in the second period when Warren Peters found Jayson Megna in front and Megna lifted a backhand over Desjardins.

That Wilkes-Barre lead lasted just 92 seconds, as Brett Connolly deflected home Mark Barberio‘s wrister to draw the Crunch even again with 1:48 remaining the middle frame.

Syracuse grabbed its first lead of the night 1:50 into the third period when Ondrej Palat circled behind the net, drew Thiessen and three defenders towards him and found Tyler Johnson in front for the easy tap-in. It was Johnson’s ninth goal of the playoffs and Palat’s second assist of the night, giving him a league-best 19 points for the postseason.

The Crunch shut down the Penguins the rest of the way, including a late Wilkes-Barre power play that ended with J.T. Wyman stepping out of the penalty box, stripping Joey Mormina of the puck at the Syracuse blue line and firing it down the ice and into the empty net for a 4-2 lead with 55.2 seconds left.

Desjardins (10-1) made 21 saves as Syracuse improved to 5-0 on the road in these playoffs. Thiessen (6-4) stopped 20 of 23 shots in defeat.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M”
3-Syracuse Crunch vs. 5-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Sat., May 25 – W-B/Scranton 4, SYRACUSE 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 26 – SYRACUSE 3, W-B/Scranton 2
Game 3 – Wed., May 29 – Syracuse 2, W-B/SCRANTON 0
Game 4 – Fri., May 31 – Syracuse 4, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 5 – Sat., June 1 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 3 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., June 5 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern