The Syracuse Crunch finished a three road games in three days series this past weekend with a pair of wins over the Binghamton Senators and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliates of the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively.
On Saturday night in Binghamton, the Crunch fell victim to some undisciplined play and poor penalty killing and found themselves in an early hole.
Early in the first period, on the second power play for the Senators, a point shot was kicked out by Crunch goalie Riku Helenius right to the waiting stick of Mike Hoffman who easily put it in the net for a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after, Crunch forward Alex Killorn was tied up in front of the Senators net and had difficulty rotating back to defend. The play resulted in a 2-on-1 rush for the Sens and a backhand flip by Pat Cannone over a sprawling Riku Helenius gave Binghamton a 2-0 lead.
The Senators scored the next three goals, culminating in a 5-0 lead for Binghamton pressured the Crunch into a poor outlet pass that was intercepted then fed to the point for an easy goal.
After that is when things got interesting.
A good chunk of the game's total 152 penalty minutes were called in a series of scrums that followed the fifth goal, including Sens goaltender Robin Lehner throwing punches at an already engaged Richard Panik.
Crunch netminder Riku Helenius, who had allowed all 5 goals up to that point in the second period, had clearly had enough and skated to center ice while shedding equipment to challenge Lehner to a fight.
A brief bout between the two goalies ended in Lehner's favor, but the resulting penalty calls gave the Crunch an extended power play and helped turn the momentum of the game towards Syracuse's favor.
Syracuse forward JT Brown said this of Helenius' fight against Lehner:
"That definitely was the most crazy game I've ever been a part of and seen … It gave us a little extra motivation seeing that he's willing to do that for our team."
For his sucker punch on Richard Panik, Lehner also received a game misconduct. He was replaced by goalie Nathan Lawson, formerly of the New York Islanders organization.
Goalie Dustin Tokarksi, who had played the night before in a 3-2 win at Albany, came in for Helenius after the fight and subsequently shut the door on the Senators.
Some back and forth play followed the penalty assessment, and the rally began when Cory Conacher finished a 2-on-1 with Tyler Johnson to bring the score to 5-1.
The Crunch then got four more consecutive goals past Lawson (from Barberio, Connolly, Palat, and Wyman) to tie the game at 5-5 and force overtime.
Early in the extra period, a streaking Richard Panik, who recorded assists on the Palat and Wyman goals in the third period, sent a pass through the slot on a partial 2-on-1 break that ricocheted off the sprawling defenseman and beat Nathan Lawson to cap off an incredible comeback and a 6-5 OT win.
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