Despite scoring the first goal for the fifth straight game and scoring the tying goal with 71-seconds left in regulation, the Worcester Sharks suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning) Friday night at the DCU Center.
The Sharks, who have now lost two in a row after winning their first three games of the season, got goals from defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser and forward Micheal Haley while goaltender Troy Grosenick made 30 saves in his fifth consecutive start.
"That's probably the heaviest team we've played this year," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer of the Crunch in a post game interview with Bill Ballou of Telegram.com. "They finish their hits, they bang you around, and they had us back on our heels a bit, but we came back and got a point out of it anyway."
In addition to the overtime loss, the Sharks lost forward Travis Oleksuk, who came off the ice near the end of the first period hunched over in pain after being hit hard into the left corner glass by Crunch defenseman Matt Corrente, and was seen post game with his arm in a sling.
Abeltshauser put the Sharks ahead 1-0 at 7:54 of the first period when on a Sharks power play, Abeltshauser lifted a backhanded shot from between the hash marks in the slot past Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis for his first goal of the season. Sharks forwards Freddie Hamilton and Evan Trupp were credited with the assists.
The Crunch answered back 34-seconds later when forward Dalton Smith buried home the rebound of linemate Jerome Samson's shot from in the slot, which was set up by a Sharks turnover inside their own zone, for his first goal of the season.
In the second period, the Crunch out-shot the Sharks 12-3 and took a 2-1 lead at 9:54 when forward (and team captain) Mike Angelidis found a loose puck in the crease and buried home his first goal of the season.
After playing an abysmal second period, the Sharks turned up the intensity in the third period as they out-shot the Crunch 16-6, and tied the game at 18:49 with the extra attacker when Haley poked the puck into the net off a mad scramble in front of Gudlevskis for his team leading fourth goal of the season.
"I think it was (Petter Emanuelsson's) goal," said Haley post game to Ballou. "I just did the old, put your head down and push as hard as you can, but it might have already been over the line."
In the pond hockey portion of overtime, Grosenick denied Crunch forward Mike Blunden on a breakaway but just seconds later, Trupp was assessed a tripping penalty at 4:01 that gave the Crunch a four-on-three power play advantage.
67-seconds later, Crunch defenseman Nikita Nesterov blasted a one-timer from on top of the right faceoff circle past Grosenick for the game-winning-goal, which was setup by the Sharks' inability to clear the zone after defenseman Taylor Doherty, who had broken his stick on the play, blocked Samson's one-timer from the left faceoff dot with his shoulder.
"In the overtime, our guys got extended on their shifts," said Sommer. "They should have changed, and I don't know why they didn't."
NOTES... Shots on goal were 33-28 in favor of the Crunch.. .The Sharks went 1-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 3-2-0 with a 2.64 goals-against-average and .916 save percentage... Sharks forward Bryan Lerg had a game high five shots on goal... Sharks forward Ryan Carpenter had the secondary assist on Haley's goal and now has a three game point streak (0-3-3)... The Sharks registered their first fighting majors of the season as Haley fought Crunch defenseman Luke Witkowski at 4:13 of the second period and Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau fought Smith at 4:58... Prior to the game, forward Eriah Hayes was reassigned to the Sharks from San Jose... This was the first of two meetings between the Sharks and Crunch this season... The Sharks are 0-1-0 against the Crunch, 1-1-1 at the DCU Center and 3-1-1 with seven points overall... The Sharks continue their six game home stand when they host their Atlantic Division rival the Portland Pirates Sunday afternoon (Oct. 26).
1. Nikita Nesterov - Crunch (1-0-1, GWG)
2. Micheal Haley - Sharks (1-0-1)
3. Dalton Smith - Crunch (1-0-1)
Lerg (A) / Oleksuk / Emauelsson
Haley / Karlsson / Carpenter
Trupp / Hamilton / Langlois
Bonneau / Schwartz / Tarasov
Tennyson / Taormina (A)
Fedun / DeMelo (A)
Abeltshauser / Doherty