Crunch Too Much for Visiting Monsters

The Lake Erie Monsters entered Friday's game in Syracuse five points out of a playoff spot with 14 games left to go in the season.  The meeting with the Crunch was the front end of perhaps the biggest back-to-back of the year.  After winning eight of their last nine overall, and 10 of their last 12 at home, the Monsters hit the road to face the two teams that sit between them and the playoffs: Syracuse on Friday and Toronto on Saturday. 

Unfortunately for the Monsters, Friday would end with them two points farther away from the playoffs.  Syracuse defeated the visiting Monsters, 3-1.  With Toronto also winning in Rochester Friday night, Lake Erie is now seven points out of the fourth spot in the North Division.

Syracuse showed their home ice advantage by getting on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead on Maksim Mayorov's goal at 7:56 of the first.  He was assisted by Jon Landry and Nick Holden.

Almost a full period would go by before the score would change again.  The Crunch doubled their lead behind the stick of Nikita Filatov, who scored at the 6:32 mark of the second period.  Johann Kroll and Craig MacDonald picked up the assists, giving the home team the 2-0 advantage.

The Crunch struck just two minutes later, ballooning to a 3-0 lead over Lake Erie.  Dan Smith found the back of the net at 8:40 of the second, helped by Derek MacKenzie and Alexandre Picard. 

It looked as though Syracuse might pull off the three-goal shutout, as the rest of the second and the majority of the third came and went with no scoring.

Lake Erie turned on the firepower in the third, outshooting Syracuse, 17-9, in the period.  It finally paid off at 16:47 when T.J. Galiardi lit the lamp for the Monsters.  The rookie has now recorded points in five straight games (3G, 5A).  Mike McLean and Randy Rowe assisted on the goal.  McLean has points in back-to-back games for the second time in just 12 games with Lake Erie this season.  Rowe has posted five points in the last four games (2G, 3A).

Although they pulled goalie Jason Bacashihua in favor of an additional attacker, the Monsters could not overcome the Crunch, falling by the 3-1 score. The Monsters are now 5-2 against Syracuse this season.

Bacashihua had 24 saves on 27 shots in the Lake Erie loss, which ended his franchise-best eight-game win streak.  Crunch netminder Kevin Lalande gave up just one goal on 32 shots on the night.

The Monsters will play in Toronto at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.  The game will be televised on MY43 WUAB.

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