Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adirondack 4, Syracuse 3 (SO) 12/8

You take a look at Adirondack's line-up and see guys like Brayden Schenn, Jason Akeson, Sean Couturier, Garrett Roe, Danny Syvret, Erik Gustafsson and you would think this team would be absolutely prolific in a shootout. That's why it's a little funny it took them 22 games to play one.

The Phantoms were the last team in the American Hockey League to take part in the post-game skills competition tonight, receiving goals from Schenn and Roe to hand the Syracuse Crunch a 4-3 loss. It was Adirondack's first win since Nov. 24 and snapped the team's season-high four-game losing streak.

“We haven’t playing all that well since we had that little winning streak,” said goalie Scott Munroe, who finished with 29 saves -- including five in overtime. “We had a big test tonight. That’s a good team right there – a really solid team that plays a good system. That’s an important win for us.”

Adirondack's special teams units also came up huge.

The penalty kill was 10-for-10. The AHL boxscore has them at 11-for-11, but they've logged Scott Munroe's rough twice -- at :45 of the third period and at :45 of overtime -- so it was really 10-for-10.

The power play capitalized on a pair of five-on-three advantages early in the second period to respond to a first-period rebound goal by Syracuse's Brett Connolly. First, Couturier let one rip from the center point that Tye McGinn tipped past Dustin Tokarski at 1:56. Three minutes later, Couturier set up Schenn's one-timer from the right-wing circle that gave the Phantoms their first lead of the game.

By this point, the Phantoms had scored two power play goals before the Crunch had taken a shot.

Schenn added another goal later in the period and then scored on Adirondack's first shot of the shootout. Garrett Roe scored in the fourth round and that proved to be the game-winner.

"Every shooter just came down trying to go high-glove," Roe said of the decisive goal. "(Tokarski) was showing high glove. In my mind the whole time I figured I was going to go high-glove. I think he just came out a little bit further because he kind of figured we were all shooting there. Just a fake shot and he happened to bite on it. I just slid it around his pad."

Adirondack went with Schenn, Akeson, Couturier and Roe in the shootout. They didn't need a fifth shooter because Tyler Johnson wound up hitting the post to end the game in the top of the fifth frame. They've got an assortment of players they can use in that fifth position, should it ever come to that.

"We've got some skill players, there's no question," coach Terry Murray said. "You want to get those guys out there and get their opportunities. I thought Roe made a heck of a move to end the game."

With all the shootout talk after the game, I forgot to ask Murray about captain Ben Holmstrom, who left in the second period and did not return. I'll see if he's playing tomorrow at Providence, though I doubt he would be, and if not I'll have to follow up at practice on Tuesday.

A couple of other notes: Zac Rinaldo got called for a pair of penalties in the third period and I'm not so sure they were actually penalties. He had one hit along the right-wing boards in the offensive zone that was more penalty-deserving than the other two -- but still clean, if that makes sense -- and it didn't get called. He also skated past Keith Aulie right after Aulie decked Harry Zolnierczyk in front of the net. He recognized the Phantoms were going on a power play and didn't do anything, likely because he didn't want to get slapped for unsportsmanlike conduct. That's smart, but then you have Schenn chasing down Panik after he caught Matt Konan with his head down. That does not add up.

Here's another odd thing: Gustafsson was out there for every goal tonight. For and against. Schenn was out there for each of the last five.

Last: I know that Couturier also hit the post in the shootout for the Phantoms, but they had to have been happy to see two pucks hit the iron and bounce out at their own end of the ice. They couldn't seem to buy a bounce or a goal in each of their past two losses, but got two in the shootout tonight.

"You have to earn the right to get a bounce," Murray said. "I thought the hard work was poured into it here tonight. We played hard. They did also. At the end of the night, that's all that ended up being the difference ... a puck going in off the post and one going out off the post."

Around the division: Connecticut, which earlier this year gave up 10 goals to Springfield, gave up nine to Manchester tonight. They lost 9-2. Fourteen different Monarchs had a point. Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists to lead Springfield to a 4-2 win on The Rock. Keith Kinkaid had another strong game for Albany, which downed Bridgeport 3-1. On the farm, Trenton lost in a shootout.

I'll be following the Providence game on AHL Live. More after that one.

Until next time,


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