DAINTON LEADS FALCONS TO MILESTONE VICTORY
Springfield, Mass. - Paul Dainton made several highlight-reel stops on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,484 fans at the MassMutual Center, commanding the Springfield Falcons (23-9-3-3) to a dramatic 2-1 shootout victory over the Albany Devils (15-13-1-7). With their nail-biting two-point effort, the Falcons completed the best opening half of a season in franchise history and won a fourth-straight game for the first time in over six years.
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The Falcons' points percentage of .684 halfway through the current season beats their previous record of .675 at the intersection of the 1995-1996 campaign. Springfield succeeded in its 13th attempt at collecting a fourth-straight victory within the same season since it last accomplished the feat from Dec. 23 to 30, 2006.
For the 10th-straight game, Springfield connected on the power play, taking advantage of its first opportunity of the night to obtain a 1-0 lead. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault set up Tim Erixon, who ripped a shot on Albany netminder Jeff Frazee. The puck deflected off of Frazee to Nick Drazenovic, who banged in the rebound from the right circle for the game's first goal at 7:10 of the opening frame.
A pair of simulataneous minor penalties on the Falcons moments later gave Albany a two-minute five-on-three power play. Eric Gelinas capitalized on the situation, taking a Joe Whitney setup in the right circle and hammering a shot by Dainton at 8:56 to tie the game, 1-1.
The Devils limited Springfield's scoring chances throughout the remainder of the contest, outshooting the Falcons over the second and third periods, 22 to 9. Albany embarked on two more five-on-three power-play chances, each over a minute in length, but the Falcons received strong penalty killing from Andrew Joudrey and Ryan Russell and thwarted the Devils' chances.
Dainton continued to deny the Devils down the stretch, then took his play to a new level in the final moments of the action. The second-year pro turned aside point-blank chances by Harri Pesonen and Joe Whitney with the clock winding down in regulation, sending the contest into overtime.
During the initial stages of the sudden-death period, Dainton robbed Tim Sestito's one-timer on the doorstep, then knocked down Pesonen's follow-up bid.
In the shootout, Sean Collins connected in the bottom of the first round for Springfield while Phil DeSimone scored for Albany in the top of the second. Wade MacLeod fired a puck by Frazee's glove in the bottom of the fourth, then Dainton foiled Whitney's tying bid in the fifth, as Springfield prevailed, 2-1.
Dainton (2-3-1) set aside 35 of 36 shots in his first start for Springfield since Dec. 1. Frazee (3-6-4) made 23 saves, as Albany fell to 0-7 in shootouts in 2012-2013.
Springfield heads to Bridgeport tomorrow attempting to win a fifth-straight game within the same season for the first time since they accumulated a franchise-record nine-consecutive victories from Mar. 6 to 28, 1998.
The Falcons lead the Sound Tigers by 10 points for first place in the Northeast Division with a game in hand.
Springfield returns to the MassMutual Center next Friday to host the Worcester Sharks at 7:00 p.m.
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).
Springfield had fallen in each of its previous 12 attempts at winning a fourth-straight game, including three in 2012-2013...The Falcons did win five-straight games from the end of the 2011-2012 season (two) through the start of the current campaign (three)...Springfield has lost in its last six bids at earning a fifth-consecutive victory since the end of the 1998 season...The Falcons also won four-straight games a seventh time in the final four contests of the 1999-2000 season but could not battle for a fifth-consecutive victory due to the end of the schedule...The victory was Springfield's first against Albany since Dec. 17, 2011, also a shootout, ending a three-game losing skid to the Devils...The Falcons won the middle game of a three-in-three stretch for the first time this season...Audy-Marchessault extended his point streak to six games (7g-6a)...Drazenovic lengthened his point streak to four contests (2g-7a)...Springfield has won consecutive shootouts and is 2-3 in the skills competition this year