MCELHINNEY, FALCONS WHITEWASH PIRATES
Springfield, Mass. - Curtis McElhinney tied a career high with his seventh shutout of the season as the Springfield Falcons (28-11-3-3) braved the remnants of Winter Storm Nemo and blanked the Portland Pirates (27-17-1-1) on Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center, 3-0.
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McElhinney, who set a Falcons record for shutouts in a campaign earlier this season, added to that club mark with 29 saves as he silenced his former club. Springfield won its third-straight game, prevailing in its first contest in over a week after Friday's matchup with Albany was postponed due to the weather.
Following a scoreless opening frame, Wade MacLeod took advantage of a Pirates' hiccup to put Springfield on the board. MacLeod charged the Portland net to chase down a Falcons dump-in, took the puck away from Pirates netminder Chad Johnson, and backhanded it into a gaping net at 14 seconds, as Springfield grabbed a 1-0 edge.
Later in the period, Jake Hansen and Dalton Smith crashed the net and jammed away at the puck around the edge of the cage. Smith worked the puck free along the right goal line and centered it for Ryan Johansen, who chipped it by Johnson at 17:24, increasing Springfield's cushion to 2-0.
Springfield extended its power-play goal-scoring streak to four games in the beginning stages of the third to put Portland away. Nick Drazenovic won a face-off for Ryan Craig, who snapped the puck immediately to David Savard at the blue line. Savard walked to the middle point and fired a shot by Johnson at 3:02, as Springfield upped its advantage to 3-0.
Portland's best scoring chance of the game came moments later with McElhinney sprawled on the ice and Chris Brown with the puck in the right circle. With a good look at an open net, Brown shot the puck well over the crossbar, and McElhinney maintained his shutout bid.
McElhinney (20-7-2), in his 30th outing with Springfield, moved to one shy of Manny Legace's team record for shutouts in a career. Legace accumulated eight with Springfield over 153 appearances.
Johnson (14-9-0) posted 25 stops, as Portland's three-game winning streak ended while being shut out for the first time this season.
Springfield maintained its position in first place in the Eastern Conference and lifted its league-best points percentage to .689 with the victory.
The Falcons head to Bridgeport on Tuesday before returning home for three games in three days at The Nest next weekend. Springfield welcomes Worcester to the MassMutual Center on Friday before hosting Portland on Saturday and Adirondack on Sunday.
Fans attending Friday's game, presented by Comcast, will have the opportunity to win a brand new, high-definition television courtesy of Manny's TV & Appliances as part of "Flat-Screen Friday."
On Saturday, the first 1,000 fans into the building will receive a Falcons winter hat, courtesy of Health New England. Fans can also win a free bicycle from Gus Coelho Auto Repair at 442 Holyoke St. in Ludlow as part of "Cycle Saturday."
The Falcons will hold their annual team poster giveaway, courtesy of Friendly's, on Sunday against the Adirondack Phantoms. Following the action, fans are invited to participate in a postgame skate, presented by Western New England University, before having their posters signed by Falcons players.
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).
Prior to today's game, Falcons owner Charlie Pompea announced the creation of the Springfield Falcons Charitable Foundation...His daughter, Sarah Pompea, who is the Falcons' Marketing & Promotions Coordinator, will serve as the foundation's first president...McElhinney originally set his career high of seven shutouts in a season in his second pro campaign of 2006-2007 with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights...Ryan Johansen and David Savard both scored in their first game back with the Falcons after beginning the 2012-2013 NHL season with the Columbus Blue Jackets...Johansen, Ryan Craig, and Nick Drazenovic extended their point streaks in the win...Johansen has points in three-straight games (3g-1a), Drazenovic's streak is at four contests (2g-5a), and Craig's is at four outings as well (2g-4a)...With an assist on Savard's goal, Drazenovic moved into sole possession of first place in the AHL with 26 power-play points (9g-17a)...The Falcons have power-play goals in 34 of 45 games...Springfield is 10-1-0-0 in Sunday competition this season, and is 23-1-0-0 when leading after two periods