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Behind 24 saves from goaltender Cedrick Desjardins and three points (1g-2a) from Ondrej Palat, Syracuse claimed a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Falcons will try to extend their postseason run when they play Game 4 in Syracuse this Friday.
The Falcons pressured the Crunch early in the game, but Syracuse thwarted Springfield's initial attempts. A Nick Holden shot caromed just out of the each of Boone Jenner in the opening minutes, while Ryan Johansen's slap shot on the power play whistled inches wide of the left post.
Syracuse went ahead when Palat sprung Richard Panik on a breakaway. Panik darted through the slot and guided a low shot under the glove of Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney at 15:15, as Syracuse grabbed a 1-0 advantage.
Springfield responded with 11 shots on Desjardins in the second, but could not break through for the equalizer.
McElhinney preserved the one-goal gap with a pair of key saves late in the period. He moved to his right to turn away a J.T. Wyman centering chance, and then paddled aside a Dan Sexton opportunity from the right circle moments later, as Syracuse's lead stayed at 1-0 after two.
Springfield carried a power play into the third, but Palat registered a backbreaking shorthanded goal off the opening draw, transferring all momentum to the Crunch. Palat corralled a puck at center, skated behind McElhinney's net, and wrapped it just over the goal line with eight seconds elapsed in the final frame to increase the edge to 2-0.
With the Crunch shorthanded again minutes later, Palat angled his way around a Falcon defenseman to create a two-on-one rush. Palat fed the puck to the left circle for Johnson, who banged in a shot by McElhinney at 7:24 to put Syracuse in control, 3-0.
The Crunch limited the Falcons' opportunities in the third, holding Springfield to seven shots in the stanza to seal the 3-0 victory and series lead.
McElhinney (3-4) stopped 22 of 23 shots. Desjardins (6-0) silenced Springfield for the second time this season. The Crunch also beat the Falcons, 3-0, on Feb. 23 in Syracuse.
Springfield needs to win Game 4 on Friday and Game 5 on Saturday in Syracuse to move the series back home. If the series shifts back to Springfield, the Falcons would host Game 6 on Tuesday, May 21 and Game 7 on Wednesday, May 22. Fans can purchase tickets for the two remaining potential home games of the series now at the MassMutual Center Box Office, or through Ticketmaster.com. 10-Flex Playoff Packs, which allow fans to purchase 10 vouchers that are redeemable at any home game during the postseason, remain on sale by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625). Unused vouchers can be returned to the Falcons' front office until Jun. 30 for a credit toward any 2013-14 ticket package.
Below is the Falcons' Eastern Conference Semifinals schedule:
Game 1 – Friday, May 10, MassMutual Center, Syracuse 5, Springfield 2
Game 2 – Saturday, May 11, MassMutual Center, Syracuse 5, Springfield 3
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 15, War Memorial Arena, Syracuse 3, Springfield 0
Game 4 – Friday, May 17, 7 p.m., War Memorial Arena
Game 5 - Saturday, May 18, 7 p.m., War Memorial Arena (if necessary)
Game 6 - Tuesday, May 21, 7 p.m., MassMutual Center (if necessary)
Game 7 - Wednesday, May 22, 7 p.m., MassMutual Center (if necessary)
Two teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series in AHL history. Rochester did it against Cleveland in the 1960 AHL Semifinal, while Adirondack accomplished the feat versus Hershey in the 1989 Southern Division Final...Tampa Bay's AHL affiliates have won 16-straight games dating back to the end of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. Norfolk, the Lightning's developmental club at the time, won 10-straight en route to securing the Calder Cup championship. Syracuse is perfect in six postseason games this year...Springfield was last shut out in the postseason on Apr. 15, 2003, a 4-0 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Wednesday's game marked the third shutout in the Falcons' postseason history...The Falcons were held without a goal for the third time this season. In addition to being blanked by Syracuse on Feb. 23, the Falcons fell 2-0 to the Providence Bruins on Apr. 13
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