LATE CHARGE LANDS FALCONS POINT IN OVERTIME DEFEAT
Bridgeport, Conn. - The Springfield Falcons (28-11-4-3) clawed back from a two-goal, third-period deficit on Tuesday night at Webster Bank Arena, scoring in the final minute of regulation to force overtime before giving way in the sudden-death period to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-19-2-3), 4-3.
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Despite the defeat, Springfield increased its lead in the Northeast Division to 13 points over the Connecticut Whale. The Falcons, however, dropped their seventh-straight sudden-death overtime decision since last prevailing in the extra session on Nov. 16, 2011 against the Worcester Sharks.
Ryan Johansen opened up the game with a nifty goal on Springfield's first shot to take a 1-0 lead. Johansen stickhandled around a Sound Tiger in the neutral zone, darted to the right circle in Bridgeport's end, and lifted a snap shot over goaltender Kevin Poulin just 46 seconds into the action. With his early strike, Johansen extended his AHL goal-scoring streak to four games, dating back to Jan. 6.
The Sound Tigers, who outshot Springfield, 16-7, in the opening 20 minutes, broke through as Jack Combs escaped behind the Falcons' defense, took a long feed from Nathan McIver, and skated to the goal alone. Combs closed in on Curtis McElhinney and slid the puck by the Falcons netminder at 11:27, tying the game, 1-1.
Bridgeport's special teams proved critical in the second period, as the Sound Tigers opened up a two-goal advantage.
Brock Nelson and Nino Niederreiter embarked on a shorthanded, two-on-one rush with the Falcons working on their second power play of the game in the formative stages of the middle frame. Nelson held the puck, skated beyond the left goal line, and centered it for Niederreiter, who easily tapped it in at 4:18, as the Sound Tigers went up, 2-1.
Matt Donovan sailed a shot past McElhinney's glove from the high slot at 6:13 on a Bridgeport power play, as the Sound Tigers upped their cushion to 3-1.
Springfield, hindered by a sluggish start and a 25-12 shots disadvantage through the first half of the game, gained momentum in the latter portion of the second before turning on the jets in the third.
The Falcons ignited their comeback at 8:07 of the last stanza, as Wade MacLeod set up Nick Drazenovic in the right circle. Drazenovic guided a half slap shot by Poulin's stick, making it a one-goal contest, 3-2.
Springfield continued to wear down the Sound Tigers, pummeling Poulin consistently and outshooting Bridgeport in the third, 13-2. With an extra attacker on the ice and the clock winding down, Tomas Kubalik charged the net and chipped a puck by Poulin at 19:19, knotting the game up, 3-3. The goal was Kubalik's second in that situation this season, as the third-year pro tied Springfield's outing in Worcester up at 19:02 of the third in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss on Jan. 11.
Donovan, who posted the second assist on Niederreiter's tally earlier in the game, sparked Bridgeport's overtime-winning conversion. The defenseman flipped a puck to the slot from the left point, and John Persson tipped it by McElhinney at 2:46, lifting Bridgeport by Springfield, 4-3.
McElhinney (20-8-2) permitted four goals on 32 shots. Poulin (15-10-3) made 32 saves, as Bridgeport prevailed in its first action since Feb. 2.
Springfield ended the evening tied with Binghamton for first place in the Eastern Conference at 63 points after the Senators won on Tuesday night.
The Falcons return home for three games over three days this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the MassMutual Center.
Fans attending Friday's "Battle of the Bay State" against Worcester, 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." As part of USA Hockey's "Hockey Weekend Across America," the Falcons encourage all fans to wear their favorite hockey jersey to The Nest on Friday evening.
On Saturday, when Springfield welcomes the Portland Pirates back to the Pioneer Valley, 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 versus 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 in the MassMutual Center concourse.
Friday and Saturday's games begin at 7:00 p.m. Sunday's contest starts at 3:00 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's three-game winning streak came to an end, as the Falcons lost for the first time since Jan. 26...The Falcons were scoreless on the power play for the first time in five games...Drazenovic extended his point streak to five games (3g-5a), and Ryan Craig increased his to five contests as well (2g-5a)...Johansen, Drazenovic, and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault are tied for the Springfield lead with 16 goals...Drazenovic equaled Audy-Marchessault for the Falcons lead at 45 points (each with 16g-29a)