Game 36 Preview: Crunch at Senators

game-36-preview:-crunch-at-senators

CRUNCH REMATCH WITH SENATORS  

 

The Crunch and Belleville Senators square off for the second time in three nights at CAA Arena. Belleville rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to upend the Crunch, 4-3, Wednesday night.

 

Syracuse (15-16-3-1) has followed a 6-1-1-0 run to being the new year with five losses in its last six games (1-5-0-0), including an active three-game losing streak.

 

The Senators (16-17-0-0) halted a two-game losing skid with their win over the Crunch.

 

LAST TIME OUT

 

The Crunch led 2-0 and 3-2 to ultimately fell to the Senators on a late goal in the third period, 4-3, Wednesday night.

 

P.C. Labrie led the way for the Crunch with his second multi-point game of the season. He opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season—and his second with the Crunch—just 2:21 into the game. Gage Goncalves doubled the lead by cashing in on a rebound at 14:38 of the first period.

 

Belleville erased that deficit in the final five minutes of the first period with goals from Matthew Wedman and Logan Shaw. Charles Hudon scored on a partial breakaway early in the second period to put the Crunch back ahead before the Sens tied it later in the period.

 

Michael Del Zotto broke the 3-3 tie with 1:33 remaining in regulation, scoring Belleville’s second power-play goal in nine chances; the Crunch had just two opportunities with the man advantage in the game.

 

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

 

The Crunch have lost five of their last six games (1-5-0-0), to sink back below 0.500 at 15-16-3-1. Syracuse still holds the final playoff position in the North Division, but their margin over the Senators is 0.001 and that position can change hands tonight. Syracuse had been at or above 0.500 since digging out of a hole and moving to 10-10-2-1 following a win Jan. 7.

 

Defenseman Darren Raddysh returned to the Crunch lineup following a stint on the Lightning’s Taxi Squad and notched an assist in Wednesday’s loss. It was his fourth helper of the season and moves him to within one point of the century mark in his AHL career. He has 99 points (22g, 77a) in 253 career AHL games; in his first season with the Crunch, the Caledon, Ontario native has four assists in 25 games.

 

SCOUTING THE SENATORS

 

The Senators ended a two-game skid to earn just their second home win since the start of December (2-5-0-0) Wednesday against the Crunch. That game was played without fans at CAA Arena, but there are expected to be several hundred in attendance tonight as Ontario slowly lifts capacity limits due to Covid-19.

 

The Senators are nipping at the heels of the Crunch in the North Division. At 16-17-0-0, Belleville slots into sixth place in the North Division, just a spot below the Crunch.

 

Captain Logan Shaw doubled his season point production and matched his career high with three points against the Crunch Wednesday night. His goal and two assists give him six points (2g, 4a) in 14 games this season for Belleville.

 

Mads Sogaard has appeared in all three games against the Crunch, including his relief outing on Wednesday. He is 2-1-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage against the Crunch. Overall the rookie is 9-8-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

 

RICHARD READY TO ROLL

 

Newly acquired forward Anthony Richard has joined the Crunch in Belleville and could make his team debut tonight. Richard, 25, was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Jimmy Huntington.

 

The 100th overall pick by the Predators in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Richard has spent the majority of his career with the Milwaukee Admirals. In 31 games this season he had 12 points (7g, 5a) for Milwaukee. He has 152 career points (79g, 73a) in 322 AHL games for Milwaukee and Chicago; he spent the 2020-21 season with the Wolves when Milwaukee opted out of the season.

 

The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native has skated in two NHL games with Nashville.

 

Huntington spent three seasons in Syracuse and tallied 29 points in 88 games.

 

ANOTHER HEARTBREAKER

 

The Crunch and Senators meet tonight for the fourth time in their eight-game regular season series. The first three games have all been decided by one goal and the last two have been won with the home team scoring late in regulation to break a tie score.

 

Alex Barré-Boulet snapped a 1-1 tie with a redirection goal with 16.7 second remaining Jan. 17 in Syracuse to give the Crunch a 2-1 win. Wednesday it was Michael Del Zotto returning the favor with a game-winning goal with 1:33 remaining in regulation.

 

It’s the second time in the last three games Syracuse has seen its opponent score a late go-ahead goal. Last Friday in Rochester, the Amerks scored the game-winning goal with 6.7 seconds to play. In both instances the Crunch were shorthanded.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

 

Wednesday’s game featured 11 total power plays, but nine went to the Senators while Belleville had an uncharacteristically clean game with just two power plays against. The Senators are shorthanded an average of 4.39 times per game which is the highest in the Eastern Conference.

 

After their 0-for-2 outing, the Crunch are now eighth in the AHL on the power play at 21.0%. They remain last in the Eastern Conference and 29th overall on the penalty kill at 75.4% following Belleville’s two power-play goals.

 

The Sens rank 24th in the league with the man advantage at 16.9% and their penalty kill is tied for 13th at 82.1%.

 

 

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