Krejci ready for the big stage

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Krejci ready for the big stage

David Krejci has always been a big game player, and he always seems to be lurking in the shadow of Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin during the regular season. Bergerons magnificent two-way play and Seguins explosive offensive skills are easy talking points for the Black and Gold, but Krejci is perhaps the perfect mixture of breathtaking passing ability and responsible center play just a shade under Bergeron.

The Czech Republic center is certainly ready after potting a career-high 23 goals and surpassing the 60-point barrier for the third time in his five seasons with the Black and Gold.

This is a fun time. We all know that weve had a success in past, but this is kind of a new season and a new year, said Krejci. So youve got to start from the beginning. We got to start with a good game tomorrow and go from there.

But Krejci also rises to the postseason occasion in a different way than either Seguin or Bergeron, and has proven in the past just how valuable he is when the games matter. Sure he can be accused of coasting through the dead portions of the regular season, but No. 46 was also the leading goal-scorer for the Bruins during last years Cup run.

People also forget that things fell apart for the Black and Gold two years ago in the collapse to Philly once a Mike Richards open-ice hit knocked Krejci out of the playoffs with a dislocated wrist. Thats the value of Krejci once the playoffs begin in earnest, and thats his value in giving the Bruins three centers with 20-goal potential.

Hes played well lately. Some players have a tough time getting up for 82 games. But one thing I know about David hes never had a tough time getting up for playoffs. I dont think theres a real big key there, said Claude Julien. He led the scoring in the playoffs last year. The year before when he got hurt in Philly he was arguably our best player at the time.

So Krejci and regular season inconsistency certainly is not a concern for us. I think David gets excited about playoffs and hes always been a good player for us and I dont expect that to change.

The only player with a worse mark than Krejcis minus-5 on the season was Shawn Thornton at a minus-7, but that doesnt mean jack with it comes to the center and the postseason.

Krejci becomes one of the best players in the world when the grand Stanley Cup stage is introduced, and that starts tonight against the Washington Caps.

Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

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Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is making the most of his final year of college eligibility.

The graduate transfer from Maryland caught 12 passes for a school-record 270 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange beat UConn 31-24 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.

Etta-Tawo scored twice in the game's first five minutes on touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. His 59-yard catch from the shadow of his team's goal line highlighted a 12-play 99-yard fourth-quarter drive that put the game away for the Orange (2-2).

It was his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.

"It goes back to chemistry with the quarterback and the coaches trusting me," Etta-Tawo said. "They trust that I'll make the plays and they keep on giving me opportunities to make the plays."

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for 407 yards and those two scores. He also scored on a 6-yard run to complete the length-of the field drive.

"We had to do it," said Etta-Tawo. "We had to drive down the field and try to put the game out, and that's exactly what we did. Everybody dug in, dug a little deeper."

Noel Thomas had 14 receptions for 111 yards for UConn (2-2). Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.

It took Syracuse just 51 seconds on its first drive and 92 seconds on its second for Dungey and Etta-Tawo to make it 14-0. Etta-Tawo had five catches for 115 yards in the first quarter.

"I think he's already passed his previous career high as a collegian in the first four games with us, (more than) his whole entire career he had at the other school," coach Dino Babers said. "I think, if you asked him, I think he might have made a good choice (to transfer)."

The Huskies responded by scoring twice in the second quarter and for the second straight week, the Orange couldn't hold the early double-digit lead.

"We can't just go up 14-0, 17-0 in the beginning of the game and then put ourselves back in a dog fight," said linebacker Zaire Franklin, who was in on 14 tackles. "Some of these games we've got to have it over by the beginning of the second quarter."

Cordell Hudson pickup off a tipped pass from UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and ran 22-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that gave the Orange a 24-17 lead. It was just the second interception for the Orange this season.

The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after holder Tyler Davis, a former high school quarterback, hit tight end Tommy Myers with a 17-yard pass on a fake field goal to set the Huskies up at the Syracuse 8-yard line.

But Syracuse's defense held, and linebacker Franklin stopped Shirreffs on a fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line with just over 6 minutes left. The Orange marched the length of the field to put the game away.

"Going back, I would probably buy some more time and throw it to the back of the end zone," said Shirreffs, who threw a 24-yard touchdown to Davis with 33 seconds left to make the final score close. "I came up short. The linebacker made a good play and I didn't."