The Syracuse Crunch scored two goals in the first 2:57 of the contest and goaltender Iiro Tarkki stopped all 31 shots he faced as the Crunch shutout the Rochester Americans by a 4-0 count tonight at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The loss marked the first time this season the Amerks were held scoreless.
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Mark Bell and Luca Caputi each provided a goal and assist for the Crunch behind Tarkki’s 31-save effort that saw the Syracuse netminder earn his second shutout of the season en route to first star honors.
Rochester goaltender Drew MacIntyre turned aside 29 of 33 shots for the Amerks, who outshot the Crunch 11-9 in the third period.
Syracuse jumped out to a quick start, taking a 2-0 lead before the game was three minutes old. Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring with his team-leading 24th goal of the season. A dump-in by Syracuse bounced through traffic and Palmieri, who found his way in behind the Rochester defense, picked up a loose puck in front and knocked it in for the goal at 1:47 of the period. Caputi picked up the lone assist on what proved to be the game-winning tally for his first of two points on the night.
The Crunch added to their lead 70 seconds later when Rick Schofield scored his fifth goal of the season. The unassisted goal came after Schofield’s shot from the right wing went through a screen in front to make its way past MacIntyre.
The teams played a scoreless second period, though there was no shortage of scoring opportunities at both ends of the rink. Strong play between the pipes by MacIntyre and Tarkki kept it a 2-0 game through 40 minutes of play.
After nearly 30 minutes of scoreless activity, Bell extended his team’s lead to 3-0 at 12:02 of the final frame when his shot from the high slot eluded MacIntyre for his sixth goal of the campaign. Andrew Gordon and former Amerk Sean Zimmerman each earned assists on the play.
Caputi and the Syracuse power-play capitalized on a late man-advantage opportunity, needing just 13 seconds on the man-up after Rochester’s Paul Szczechura was sent off for holding. Bell earned his second point of the night with an assist and Nate Guenin also helped set up Caputi’s sixth goal of the season at 15:45 to make it a 4-0 contest in favor of the Crunch.
The Amerks conclude their four-game road swing on Saturday afternoon as they head north of the border to take on the North Division Toronto Marlies in their final contest prior to the 2012 AHL All-Star break. The 3:00 p.m. matinee will be the fifth of 10 scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.