Brandon McMillan first goal of the playoffs stood as the winner as the Syracuse Crunch skated away with a 4-3 win over the St. John’s IceCaps Saturday night in Syracuse, N.Y. to even their best-of-five first-round playoff playoff series at a game apiece.
The IceCaps have home advantage in the opening round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs, so the remaining three games of the Eastern Conference opening-round series will be played at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
Game 3 is slated for 7:30 Wednesday night followed by Game 4 7:30 p.m. Friday. If the series goes to a Game 5, it’s slated for 7:30 Saturday night.
St. John’s won the opening game of the series 3-2 Friday night on Jason King’s goal with 1:22 left in regulation time.
John Mitchell, Mark Bell and Matt Clark also scored for the Crunch. Replying for St. John’s was Aaron Gagnon, with a pair of goals, and Patrice Cormier.
Following a trend set by the Icecaps Friday night, it was St. John’s striking first again Saturday when Gagnon netted the first of his two goals just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff, finishing off a play with Brock Trotter and Paul Postma.
Bell, the NHL veteran of 450 big league games, drew Syracuse even at 11:03 of the first period.
Clark and Mitchell scored goals within a 1:40 span in the second period before Cormier closed the gap to a goal at the 4:18 mark, with Postma drawing another assist, along with Spencer Machacek.
Gagnon tied the game 46 seconds into the third period on the power play, but McMillan’s tally at 12:25 of the third, with Syracuse enjoying the man advantage on Brett Festerling’s tripping minor, proved to be the winner.
Iiro Tarrki turned aside 18 shots to register the win. Eddie Pasquale, making his second straight playoff start, made 36 saves.