Kevin Stenlund broke a 2-2 tie with 6:51 left in regulation and Cleveland opened its North Division semifinal series with a 5-3 victory in Syracuse on Friday night.
The Crunch host Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Saturday night.
Game 1 was scoreless until just past the midway point of the second period, when Mark Letestu and Ryan MacInnis scored 2:11 apart to stake the Monsters to a 2-0 lead.
Alexander Volkov and Cory Conacher scored power-play goals for Syracuse to even the score, but Stenlund and Zac Dalpe restored Cleveland’s two-goal lead with tallies 52 seconds apart.
Brad Thiessen made 16 saves for the Monsters, who won their 10th consecutive postseason game dating back to their championship run in 2016.
Carter Verhaeghe notched a goal and two assists for the Crunch, who were 2-for-2 on the power play.
North Division Semifinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
N1-Syracuse Crunch vs. N4-Cleveland Monsters
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 19 – Cleveland 5, SYRACUSE 3
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 20 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 23 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 7:30
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 25 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern