PENALTY-KILLING PERFECTION BY JOUDREY, RUSSELL PROPELS FALCONS
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (29-11-4-3), inspired by the penalty killing of Andrew Joudrey and Ryan Russell, shut down the Worcester Sharks on seven power-play tries (22-19-1-5) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center to emerge with a 3-1 victory.
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Joudrey and Russell spearheaded Springfield's shorthanded effort, including a near two-minute five-on-three kill in the third period, as the Falcons reclaimed sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference at 65 points, two in front of the Binghamton Senators.
Worcester netminder Harri Sateri was strong in the first period, but Springfield broke through late in the frame with a five-on-three power-play goal. David Savard craftily held the zone at the left point and snapped the puck to Nick Holden in the right circle. Holden's shot was tipped in by Ryan Craig at 19:12, giving Springfield a 1-0 lead. The conversion had significance in Falcons history, as Craig moved into a tie for seventh among the club's skaters at 54 goals with Ravil Gusmanov, and jumped alone into fourth with his 26th power-play tally. Savard equaled Erik Westrum for 10th in Falcons history with his 69th assist in a Springfield sweater.
The Sharks countered early in the middle frame, as Danill Tarasov redirected Danny Groulx's left-point shot by Springfield goaltender Allen York at 1:30, evening the score, 1-1.
Tarasov's tip-in proved to be all Worcester could offer, as the Sharks were denied the rest of the way by Springfield's penalty-killing execution.
While Joudrey and Russell stood out each time a Springfield skater entered the penalty box, Cody Bass, making his return to the ice after missing the last 39 games due to an injury suffered on Oct. 28, also chipped in as the Falcons fended off a lengthy five-on-three power play near the midway point of the game. Bass blocked two Worcester shots, while Joudrey deflected three, and the game remained tied as Springfield completed a flawless kill.
The Falcons went in front for good in the last stanza when Holden connected on a backdoor set up by Sean Collins. Holden cut to the left circle, took Collins' pass from the right-goal line, and fired the puck off of Sateri and in at 6:30, lifting Springfield in front, 2-1.
Springfield's penalty-killing unit was put to the test again with just under eight minutes left, as Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Dalton Prout took minor infractions within four seconds of each other. Joudrey and Russell came through once more, with the latter kneeling down to block a shot by Matt Tennyson in the slot, and the Falcons escaped unscathed.
With Sateri pulled and Worcester's net empty, Joudrey scaled a puck off the glass in his end and all the way into the gaping goal at 19:48 to cap off his well-rounded evening. The Falcons prevailed, 3-1.
After seeing only eight shots in the first two periods, York (6-4-0) set aside each of Worcester's 15 attempts in the third for a total of 22 saves. Sateri (10-10-2) allowed two goals on 27 shots and was on the bench for Springfield's final goal.
Springfield's Northeast Division edge remained at 13 points over the Connecticut Whale. The Falcons, who ended Worcester's 14-game MassMutual Center point streak, upped their league-leading points percentage to .691.
The Sharks left Springfield without a point for the first time since they lost to the Falcons, 2-0, on Mar. 22, 2009.
The Falcons stay home on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
On Saturday, when Springfield welcomes Portland 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.
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).
Joudrey's goal was his first since a 10-2 Springfield win in Connecticut on Nov. 4, dating back 38 games...The Falcons were perfect on the penalty kill for the third time in the last four games...Collins' assist on Holden's game winner was his first point in 10 contests, going back to Jan. 18 vs. Connecticut...The Falcons were 1/8 on the power play...Wade MacLeod extended his point streak to five games (1g-5a)...Craig's five-game assist streak ended, but he increased his point streak to six games (3g-5a)...The Falcons limited an opponent to under two goals for the 12th time this season...Springfield is 18 games above .500, three shy of its all-time high water mark of 21 games over .500 (42-21-10-5, Apr. 13, 1996)...The Falcons upped their league-best goal differential to +45...Holden, who had his first game-winning goal of the season, is a point (5g-19a) shy of equaling his career high of 25 (4g-21a), set with Springfield in 2010-2011