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Namestnikov scores twice for Crunch in win over Marlies

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The Canadian Press
1/3/2014 11:06:06 PM
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TORONTO -- The lesson for the Toronto Marlies on Friday was never take a team's record for granted.

Following back-to-back wins against the Western Conference-leading Grand Rapids Griffins, the Marlies found themselves over confident against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and fell 6-3 in American Hockey League play.

The Crunch, 11th in the Eastern Conference, entered Friday's action having won just twice in their previous 10 games.

"We probably overlooked them and maybe looked at their record the last little bit, but they're a team of winners," said Toronto forward Troy Bodie. "That team won the Calder Cup two years ago, they were two wins away from winning it last year and that's a team you can't take lightly."

Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice and Brett Connolly chipped in with a goal and two assists for the Crunch (14-14-4) while Cedric Paquette and Pierre-Cedric Labrie each scored once.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period, Syracuse battled back to score five unanswered goals and take a three-goal lead.

"Puck management is everything," said Marlies coach Steve Spott. "We turned it over, it's 2-2 and then it's anybody's game. You have to manage the puck properly, the neutral zone at this level is so important. We turned over the puck on their first goal in the neutral zone. That got them back in the hockey game."

Carter Ashton scored shorthanded at 14:24 of the first and Andrew Crescenzi at 5:03 of the second period to put Toronto (18-11-3) ahead 2-0.

Ashton's shorthanded goal was the Marlies fifth of the season.

"I thought our first 20 minutes was great, we had four 2-on-1s and a breakaway for five quality chances that we didn't capitalize on and that's where you've got to make hay," said Spott. "We allowed them to stay in the game, (but) give Syracuse credit. They hung in and hung in and they capitalized on our mistakes."

The win helps Syracuse avoid its third straight loss.

Mike Duco had the other goal for the Marlies, who lost for the first time in three outings.

"What bothers me more than anything was our push back, we didn't have that push back or that edge here tonight," said Spott. "The nice thing is, I've got healthy bodies and we'll re-arrange the line-up for (Saturday) afternoon."

Kristers Gudlevskis made 32 saves for his seventh win of the season while Toronto's Drew MacIntyre stopped 31 shots.

Notes: The two teams play for the second, and final time this season, on April 12 in Syracuse. ... Toronto concludes its two-game homestand against the Utica Comets on Saturday.

Syracuse Crunch (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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