ERIXON, MCELHINNEY HIGHLIGHT FALCONS' SHUTOUT OF WHALE
Springfield, Mass. - Tim Erixon scored two more goals against his former club and Curtis McElhinney made 20 saves for his league-leading seventh victory and third shutout of the season, guiding the Springfield Falcons (7-1-0-2) to a 2-0 win over the Connecticut Whale (4-5-1-0) in front of 5,653 fans on Friday night at the MassMutual Center. The Falcons, who have taken points in nine of their first 10 games this season, maintained a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Syracuse Crunch at 16 points with the win.
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The teams battled through a scoreless first 40 minutes, with the Falcons outshooting the Whale in the initial two periods, 27-13. Both goaltenders stood up to early challenges, with McElhinney stopping a breakaway bid by Kyle Jean in the first period with his glove, and Whale netminder Cam Talbot deflecting a John Moore attempt with the Falcons on a three-on-one rush in the second stanza.
Erixon, who had four points (1g-3a) and was +6 last Sunday in a 10-2 Springfield win over Connecticut in the second-year pro's first game against his 2011-2012 squad, connected just 63 seconds into the final frame with the Falcons on a power play to put his club in front, 1-0. The defenseman took a feed from former Connecticut teammate Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and hammered a puck in from the blue line, giving Springfield a lead it would not relinquish.
With the Falcons on a five-on-three advantage later in the third, Erixon skated to the high slot and drove a puck past Talbot's glove, extending Springfield's lead to 2-0. Erixon, who scored three goals in all of 2011-2012, matched his entire rookie-campaign output in the Falcons' last two games against the Whale.
McElhinney (7-1-1) became the first Falcons netminder to post three shutouts in one season since Devan Dubnyk blanked three opponents in 2008-2009. Talbot (3-2-0) set aside 38 of 40 shots in defeat.
The Falcons, who are off on Saturday, host the Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the MassMutual Center. Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
Erixon's two goals were a career high...Springfield outshot Connecticut, 40-20...McElhinney's shutout was the 18th of his professional career and 16th in the AHL...The Falcons registered two shutouts in the entire 2011-2012 campaign...Springfield has outscored Connecticut 12-2 in two games this season...The Falcons have taken points in nine of their opening 10 games for the first time since 1997-1998, a season in which the club set a record with 45 wins...Springfield's .800 standings points percentage is tied for the highest in the league with Syracuse...The Falcons' team goals-against average of 1.70 is the best in the league...Springfield has allowed just 15 goals through 10 games in regulation and overtime and 17 including two shootout defeats...The Falcons are 5-1-0-2 at home...Springfield has scored first in each of its last nine games...McElhinney's save percentage of .949 and goals-against average of 1.44 are both good for third in the league...The Falcons' +18 goal differential leads the AHL