Game 67 Preview: Crunch vs. Penguins

game-67-preview:-crunch-vs.-penguins

CRUNCH AND PENGUINS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD 

 

The Crunch play the second of back-to-back home games tonight as they host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the first time this season. 

 

The Crunch (33-24-7-2) scored four unanswered goals in the third period to overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeat the Springfield Thunderbirds, 5-3, last night.

 

The Penguins (31-27-4-4) had the night off last night; they last played Wednesday in a 3-1 home win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

 

LAST TIME OUT

 

The Crunch came back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to defeat the Springfield Thunderbirds, 5-3, last night at Upstate Medical University Arena.

 

Springfield opened a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by two defensemen—Brady Lyle and Tommy Cross. Another defenseman, Sean Day, pulled the Crunch within one less than a minute after the T-Birds’ second goal; he ripped in his eighth goal of the season with 1:01 to go in the period to make it 2-1.

 

The Thunderbirds re-claimed a two-goal lead on a second power-play goal 7:01 into the third period. The Crunch surged back with the final four goals, starting with Riley Nash’s tally at 9:28. Anthony Richard tied the game at 12:25 and then Gage Goncalves put the Crunch ahead for the first time with a power-play goal with 2:36 to play in regulation. Nash put the game away with an empty-net goal as the Crunch pulled out their sixth straight home win.

 

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

 

After picking up a come-from-behind win over the Springfield Thunderbirds last night, the Crunch have moved back up to third in the North Division with a 33-24-7-2 record. Last night’s win extended the team’s point streak to four games (3-0-1-0).

 

Anthony Richard led the way for the Crunch last night, picking up three points (1g, 2a). Since missing last Friday’s game in Utica for the birth of his son, the forward has racked up six points in four games (4g, 2a).

 

Nick Perbix played in his first game at Upstate Medical University Arena last night. The rookie blue liner added his first professional point, an assist on the game-winning goal, and fired three shots on goal. Perbix joined the Crunch on an ATO after the Tampa Bay Lightning signed him to a one-year, entry level contract for the 2022-23 season.

 

SCOUTING THE PENGUINS

 

The Penguins come into tonight’s matchup tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is fresh off the heels of a 3-1 victory over Lehigh Valley Wednesday night. It was the second consecutive victory for the Penguins, who are averaging just shy of five goals per game in three April games.

 

The Penguins are led by AHL rookie Valtteri Puustinen. A 2019 seventh round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Puustinen leads W-B/Scranton in points with 37.

 

Former Crunch goaltender Louis Domingue backstops a stingy Penguins group that allows 2.97 goals per game, which ranks 12th in the league. Domingue has won his last three starts, allowing four total goals and playing to a .954 save percentage. Overall, the Quebec-born goaltender is 10-7-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

 

Even though the Penguins currently sit in a playoff spot, their power play unit has struggled all season. The Penguins convert on just 14.5% of their man-up opportunities, the worst mark in the AHL.

 

BARRE-BOULET AND NASH KEEP ROLLING 

 

Alex Barré-Boulet and Riley Nash extended their point streaks to six games last night. Both players are now tied with Cole Koepke for the longest individual point streaks on the Crunch this season.

 

Barré-Boulet has racked up 13 points (4g, 9a) over his six-game streak, while Nash has added 10 points (5g, 5a) through his hot stretch. Barré-Boulet also has four straight multi-point games for the Crunch and he leads the team with 18 multi-point outings this season. 

 

Barré-Boulet has catapulted into the team scoring lead; he has 55 points (16g, 39a) in 49 games this season, moving up to 18th overall in the AHL.

 

RACKING UP THE POINTS

 

The Crunch have earned points in four straight games, and in seven of their last nine contests. They have earned points in 13 of their last 16 games (11-3-1-1) since March 9, and they have just one regulation loss in five April games.

 

Ben Groulx‘s squad fell to 17-18-4-1 after a loss to Laval on Feb. 12. Since then, the Crunch have gone 16-6-3-1 (0.692) to propel themselves into playoff position. They have the fifth-best record in the AHL in that time, behind only Stockton (0.775), Chicago (0.750), Charlotte (0.739) and Colorado (0.725). 

 

SEAN DAY CLOSING IN ON 40

 

Sean Day scored the opening goal for the Crunch last night, picking up his eighth tally of the season. Through 62 games this season, Day has compiled 39 points (8g, 31a). With one more point, the defenseman will pass the 40-point threshold, a mark that just four other Crunch defenseman have hit since 2012-13.

 

Day would join Cameron Gaunce (2018-19), Matt Taormina (2016-17 and 2015-16), Anthony DeAngelo (2015-16) and Mark Barberio (2012-13). Taormina’s 60 point performance in 2016-17 is the most by a Crunch defensemen in that time and it earned him the AHL’s Eddie Shore Award. Day is tied for sixth among all league defensemen in scoring this season.

 

HOME ICE ADVANTAGE

 

The Crunch have won six straight home games, and earned points in their last seven (6-0-0-1) at Upstate Medical University Arena. Since January, the Crunch’s only regulation home losses have come against Utica (3) and Charlotte (1); they are 15-4-1-1 at home in that span, overcoming a sluggish 3-6-0-1 start on home ice.

 

The Crunch have scored at least four goals in their last six home games and they’ve outscored their opponents 27-13 in that time.

 

 

Players Mentioned

Gage Goncalves

#39 Gage Goncalves

F
6′ 1″
171 lbs

Cole Koepke

#45 Cole Koepke

F
6′ 1″
172 lbs

Sean Day

#74 Sean Day

D
6′ 3″
218 lbs

Anthony  Richard

#90 Anthony Richard

F
5′ 10″
186 lbs

Riley Nash

#20 Riley Nash

F
6′ 1″
192 lbs

Players Mentioned

Gage Goncalves

#39 Gage Goncalves

6′ 1″
171 lbs
F

Cole Koepke

#45 Cole Koepke

6′ 1″
172 lbs
F

Sean Day

#74 Sean Day

6′ 3″
218 lbs
D

Anthony  Richard

#90 Anthony Richard

5′ 10″
186 lbs
F

Riley Nash

#20 Riley Nash

6′ 1″
192 lbs
F

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