FALCONS HOLD OFF SOUND TIGERS, INCREASE DIVISION LEAD
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (18-8-2-3) increased their Northeast lead to four points over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (17-13-1-2) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center, scoring four times in the opening period before holding off their division rival late, 5-4.
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The Falcons have earned consecutive victories for the first time since generating three-straight wins from Dec. 2 to 8. Springfield ended Bridgeport's four-game winning streak as well with the two-point outing.
Matt Donovan's shot from the high slot at 2:25 sailed past Falcons netminder Curtis McElhinney, giving Bridgeport an early 1-0 lead and setting the tone for an eventual six-goal first period.
Springfield responded quickly, scoring twice to take a one-goal advantage.
Michael Chaput took a feed in the left circle from Jonathan Audy-Marchessault at 5:47 and guided it over the glove of Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin with a snap shot, tying the game, 1-1.
Audy-Marchessault provided the Falcons with a 2-1 edge at 8:20, garnering the carom from the end boards off a Tim Erixon shot and blasting the rebound in from the left circle.
Just five seconds into the Sound Tigers' initial power play of the game, Nino Niederreiter redirected a Matt Donovan shot past McElhinney at 8:48, evening the score, 2-2.
The Falcons scored twice more in the period to take the lead for good.
Ryan Russell corralled a puck at center ice, skated in on a two-on-one rush with Audy-Marchessault, and fired a shot by Poulin at 11:02, putting the Falcons back in front, 3-2.
With the Falcons working on their first man-advantage chance in the final moments of the first, Cam Atkinson one-timed an Erixon pass toward the net. Poulin stopped Atkinson's shot, but Ryan Craig converged on the cage and tipped the puck in with under three seconds left, as the Falcons emerged from the opening 20 minutes with a 4-2 cushion.
John Persson netted the first of his two goals on the night at 9:02 of the middle frame, taking a puck off the end wall and driving it past McElhinney, narrowing the Falcons' advantage to 4-3.
Nick Drazenovic wristed a puck from the top of the right circle through a screen, off a Sound Tiger body, and over Poulin's stick at 2:49 of the final frame for the eventual difference-maker, upping Springfield's lead to 5-3.
Persson wristed a shot from the high slot off of a Springfield defenseman and past McElhinney at 15:27 of the final frame, bringing the Sound Tigers to within a goal late, 5-4.
Bridgeport went on its fifth and final power play moments later with a chance to tie the game, but a series of blocked shots by Springfield helped seal the Falcons' victory.
McElhinney (16-5-2) collected his league-best 16th victory of the 2012-2013 campaign, making 16 saves for the Falcons' first win against the Sound Tigers this season. Poulin (10-6-2) stopped 27 shots as his personal four-game winning streak ended.
The Falcons head to Albany on Saturday to take on the Devils at 5:00 p.m. and then to Providence on Sunday, closing out the weekend against the Bruins at 3:05 p.m. Each broadcast is presented by FalconsWireless.com and starts 15 minutes before the opening face-off on WHYN NewsTalk 560 AM, WHYN.com, the iHeartRadio App, and AHLLive.com.
Springfield returns home on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7:00 p.m., hosting Providence. Comcast is the presenting sponsor.
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 had three assists...Craig has goals in three-straight games, becoming the second Falcon with at least a three-game goal-scoring streak this season...He tied Atkinson for ninth in Falcons history with his 48th goal in a Springfield sweater...Springfield has scored a power-play goal in three-straight contests for the first time since posting at least one in five-consecutive games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8...The Falcons had gone four-straight games without a power-play goal prior to this streak...Drazenovic has five game-winning goals, tying Atkinson for the team and league lead...Chaput (1g-1a) recorded the first multi-point game of his career...Audy-Marchessault's goal was his first since Dec. 16...Springfield improved to 7-1-1-1 in Friday games this season...McElhinney's win was his first since a 1-0 victory in Hershey on Dec. 22...Atkinson notched two assists, has points in four-straight games (1g-6a), and points in 13 of the last 14 contests (8g-13a)...He tied Audy-Marchessault for first on the club with 21 assists