MCELHINNEY HAS CAREER NIGHT AS FALCONS SWEEP ICECAPS
St. John's, Newfoundland - The Springfield Falcons (14-4-1-3) finished off a two-game weekend sweep of the St. John's IceCaps (11-12-0-1) on Saturday evening at the Mile One Centre, receiving a career-high 46 saves from goaltender Curtis McElhinney on the way to a 4-2 victory.
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In earning the win, the Falcons took over first place in the AHL standings with 32 points, jumping past the Abbotsford Heat for league supremacy. Springfield has taken points in seven-straight road games (6-0-1-0) and has won four-consecutive away contests, with both streaks now just one shy of matching club records in those respective categories.
After the clubs skated through the opening 20 minutes without a goal, Matt Calvert and the Falcons wasted no time in lighting the lamp in the second period. Ryan Johansen flipped a pass from behind the net toward Calvert, who corralled a bouncing puck in the slot and slid it past St. John's goaltender Mark Dekanich for the 1-0 lead just 24 seconds into the middle frame.
Tomas Kubalik stepped in front of the net and redirected a rocket shot from the right point by Tim Erixon past Dekanich at 5:27 for a 2-0 edge.
For the first time in 25 penalty-kill situations, Springfield allowed an opposing power-play goal as the IceCaps converted at 8:00. Maxime Macenauer chased down a rebound off a long Ray Sawada drive and jammed it by McElhinney, making it 2-1.
The Falcons reclaimed their two-goal lead later in the busy second stanza. Off a St. John's turnover, Nick Drazenovic found Cam Atkinson cutting to the net. Denied by Dekanich on his first chance, Atkinson struck on his follow-up attempt at 14:41, putting Springfield up 3-1.
For the second-straight night, the Falcons carried a 3-1 lead into the final stanza and once again had some nail-biting moments en route to the win.
Paul Postma wired a shot from straight on at the blue line past McElhinney with St. John's on its fifth power play at 14:06 of the third, narrowing the Falcons' cushion to 3-2.
On his way to breaking his previous single-game mark of 44 saves, McElhinney would allow the IceCaps to draw no closer, generating several critical stops down the stretch.
With Dekanich pulled and Springfield on a power play, Johansen drilled a Kubalik feed into the gaping net at 19:34, icing the game, 4-2.
McElhinney (13-2-2) won his fourth-straight start and captured his league-best 13th victory on this milestone evening, permitting only two goals on 48 shots, the most allowed by Springfield in a game this season. Dekanich (5-4-0) stopped 28 of 31 Falcon attempts.
Springfield continued its road dominance on another two-point night, increasing its league-best away record to 8-1-1-0 (.850). The Falcons have recorded points in a minimum of seven-straight road games for the sixth time in franchise history. Springfield will attempt to match its club records of points in eight-straight road contests and victories in five-consecutive away outings next Friday night against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The Falcons return home to host the IceCaps next Saturday at the MassMutual Center, with a rare start time of 7:30 p.m. that evening.
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).
Atkinson has goals in four-straight games and has a five-game point streak (5g-4a)...He tied Ryan Craig and Norm Milley for ninth in Falcons history with his 45th Springfield goal...Atkinson was tied for second in the league with a Falcon-best 13 goals at the final horn...Johansen's three points (1g-2a) were a career high...The Falcons' two eight-game road point streaks occurred from Apr. 10 to Nov. 5, 2005 (5-0-3) and from Jan. 19 to Feb. 18, 1996 (5-0-3)...Springfield has won three-straight games overall for the 12th time since it last earned victories in four-consecutive contests from Dec. 23 to 30, 2006...The Falcons allowed a power-play goal to an opponent for the first time since Nov. 24...Atkinson (13g-12a) and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (7g-18a) were tied for third in the league with a Springfield-best 25 points at the end of the game...Craig's four-game point streak (4g-1a) ended...Drazenovic extended his point streak to five games (1g-4a)...Springfield has at least one power-play goal in 18 of 22 games this season...The Falcons improved to 6-1-0-0 all-time against the IceCaps, including 3-0-0-0 in 2012-2013...McElhinney posted his previous single-game high of 44 saves with the Portland Pirates on Nov. 25, 2011...His NHL single-game high is 42 stops, accomplished with the Anaheim Ducks on Apr. 9, 2010...The Falcons have outscored their opponents 46 to 23 on the road this season and have a league-best overall goal differential of +32 (79 to 47)...The Syracuse Crunch trailed the Falcons by two points in the standings for first place in the AHL and the Eastern Conference and were tied with the Adirondack Phantoms in the third period on Saturday at the time this release was published