Crunch get shut out twice in a row in Norfolk

Failing to score is getting to be a bad habit for the Syracuse Crunch.

For the third time in this American Hockey League season, the Crunch were shut out twice in a row this past weekend. The Norfolk Admirals blanked the Syracuse skaters 3-0 Friday Feb. 11, and 4-0 on Saturday Feb. 12, at The Scope arena, not far from Southern Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp.

Admirals back-up goalie Mike Smith turned away all 29 shots the Crunch sent his way on Friday, before Syracuse fruitlessly flung 19 pucks at Norfolk's number-one netminder Dustin Tokarski on Saturday. The last time Norfolk had notched back-to-back shutouts was March 29-30, 2003.

As his team's offense faded in front of him, Crunch goalie J.P. Levasseur stopped 32 of 35 shots on Friday and 24 of 28 on Saturday.

Syracuse has now been shut out nine times this season.

On Friday, the Crunch went 0-for-6 on the power play after going 6-for-11 over its previous two games. On Saturday, Syracuse was out-shot 12-3 in the first period, and failed to cash in on any of its three power play opportunities over the course of the game.

Crunch players used their fists rather than their sticks to work out their frustrations. Six fighting majors were handed out Saturday, three to the Crunch (Mat Clark, Aaron Voros and Matt Kennedy) and three to the Admirals (Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Radko Gudas and Levi Nelson).

But when it comes to putting pucks in the opposition net, the Crunch remain punchless. Syracuse has scored just 123 goals this season. In the entire 30-team AHL, only the cellar-dwelling Adirondack Phantoms have scored fewer goals, 119.

The Crunch travel to Glens Falls on Wednesday, Feb. 16, to meet the Phantoms at 7 p.m., before returning home Friday.

Flamboyant goalie Ray "Razor" Emery was scheduled to begin practicing with the Crunch on Valentine's Day and may see action at the War Memorial at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18 and 19, against the San Antonio Rampage and the Rochester Amerks, respectively. Ticket prices range between $13 and $22; 473-4444; syracusecrunch.com.

The 28-year-old native of Cayuga, Ontario has appeared in 163 career NHL games with Ottawa and Philadelphia with a 2.70 goals-against average and 11 shutouts. He skated in 29 games with the Flyers last season before being diagnosed with avascular necrosis and undergoing bone-graft surgery to alleviate his hip problems.

Emery led the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007, making it the Senators' first trip to the finals since 1927. They later lost to the Anaheim Ducks.

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