Tyler Johnson and the Syracuse Crunch were hardly intimidated by playing a road game in one of hockey’s liveliest arenas.
Johnson scored twice in the third period to lead the Syracuse Crunch to a 4-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in American Hockey League play at the Bell Centre on Friday night.
Mike Angelidis and Philip-Michael Devos also scored while Dustin Tokarski made 13 saves for Syracuse (7-1-2).
“We’re doing everything we need to do,” said Johnson, who scored goals 2:57 apart midway through the third. “We’ve started to play a full 60 minutes, that was huge. We just weren’t doing that at the beginning of the season but we are finally putting some things together. There’s obviously a lot to work on but we’re looking good right now.”
Steve Quailer scored for Hamilton (4-4-2), which lost its second in a row, and Robert Mayer stopped 27 shots.
Bulldogs forward Blake Geoffrion left the game and was sent to a hospital after a first-period hit by Crunch defenceman Jean-Philippe Cote.
Geoffrion was caught with his head down by Cote as he drove along the boards. He was bleeding and holding his hands to his face when he skated off the ice to go to the dressing room.
Hamilton coach Sylvain Lefebvre said he believed Geoffrion was injured when he fell to the ice.
“It’s a head injury,” Lefebvre said. “He’s under surgery right now and it’s not life threatening.”
Cote was not penalized for his devastating but clean hit on Geoffrion, though he did get a fighting major for scrapping with Bulldogs forward Mike Blunden, who came after him right after the hit.
“To be honest, I didn’t even really see the hit,” Blunden said. “I was yelling, ‘Heads up, Boomer!’ and then when I saw he got smoked I just went after the guy.
“We’re a team and we stick together and Boomer’s been a big part of our team. It’s unfortunate what happened and hopefully he gets well soon.”
The Bulldogs, who are the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, had the hockey-starved Bell Centre crowd of 18,582 chanting “Let’s go, Bulldogs!” as Hamilton trailed 2-1 in the third period.
“It was definitely really cool,” Hamilton forward Brendan Gallagher said. “Obviously we would have liked to have given them a better game and a better result, but we really appreciated them coming out and supporting us, and when we do get the opportunity to come back hopefully we take advantage of it a little better.”
Devos gave Syracuse a 1-0 lead in the first when he deflected Dmitri Korobov’s shot past Mayer for his first goal of the season.
Quailer also scored his first of the season 2:07 into the second to tie the game at one. He carried the puck on the right side on a two-on-one with Gabriel Dumont and snapped a wrist shot past Tokarski’s glove from the faceoff circle.
Angelidis restored Syracuse’s one-goal late in the second when he beat Mayer between the legs from the goalmouth for his fourth goal of the season.
Johnson increased the Crunch’s lead to 3-1 at 7:58 of the third, finishing off a quick passing play with Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat.
Panik picked up his second straight assist at 10:55 when Johnson got credit for his second goal after Panik’s shot went in off his leg.