FALCONS' COMEBACK ATTEMPT WITHSTOOD BY WHALE
Hartford, Conn. - Ryan Russell scored late on Sunday afternoon at the XL Center, but the Springfield Falcons (34-18-5-4) could not get by the Connecticut Whale (30-25-5-3) in the game's final moments, undergoing a 3-2 weekend-ending defeat.
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The Falcons' still-significant lead in the Northeast Division was reduced to nine points over the Whale with two games in hand, as Springfield fell on a Sunday for only the third time this season.
Although Springfield faced a deficit after one period, Matthew Ford started the game for the Falcons on a good note by scoring his first goal with his new club. Ford snapped a puck to Jonathan Audy-Marchessault upon entering Connecticut's end, then darted to the net. Audy-Marchessault centered it toward Michael Chaput, whose deflection set up Ford on the doorstep. Ford backhanded the puck past Whale netminder Jason Missiaen at 3:45, as Springfield led, 1-0.
The Whale came right back to tie the game, as Chris Kreider deposited a centering pass from Kris Newbury by Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney at 6:32, squaring the contest, 1-1.
After gaining momentum from Kreider's equalizer, Connecticut grabbed the advantage in the contest moments later. Ryan Bourque took a puck in the right circle and banked a wrist shot off of McElhinney and in at 9:36, putting the Whale up, 2-1.
The Falcons penalty kill kept it a one-goal game through the first, as Springfield fought off three Connecticut man-advantage tries in the initial stanza.
Springfield's power play received nearly five-straight minutes of work in the second, as Blake Parlett's cross-checking infraction was followed up by a double-minor on Brandon Segal for high-sticking 49 seconds later. The Falcons could not capitalize, and McElhinney had to fight off a Bourque shorthanded breakaway to maintain the one-tally deficit.
After Connecticut completed the kill, Parlett fired a Kelsey Tessier feed in the left circle on a two-on-one rush by McElhinney's stick, opening the Whale bubble to 3-1 at 14:56.
McElhinney knocked down a Kris Newbury chance from the low slot as time expired in the middle frame, keeping it a two-goal contest.
The Falcons' urgency was evident from the start of the third as Sean Collins had two great looks at the top of the crease. Missiaen responded with a pair of stops, and Springfield was held off the board on an ensuing power play, keeping it a 3-1 game.
McElhinney set aside a breakaway by Kreider late in the third, holding the door open for a Springfield revolt.
The Falcons clawed back, as Ryan Craig won a battle behind the net and fed Russell at the right goal line. Russell guided the puck past Missiaen's stick with a quick shot at 16:45, bringing Springfield to within one, 3-2.
Missiaen and the Whale would allow the Falcons to get no closer, as Connecticut held on for the 3-2 victory.
McElhinney (23-13-3) made 15 saves, as Springfield held Connecticut to just 18 shots. The Falcons pelted Missiaen (9-4-2) with 31 attempts, beating him twice.
Springfield returns home on Wednesday to host Manchester, presented by Junior Achievement, before welcoming Worcester to the MassMutual Center on Friday, presented by Sargento. Fans attending Friday's game will have the opportunity to win a new HDTV, courtesy of Manny's TV & Appliances, as part of "Flat-Screen Friday." Both home games next week begin at 7 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 is now 12-3-0-0 in Sunday games this season, with two of those losses coming against Connecticut...Audy-Marchessault's assist marked his team-leading 55th point (18g-37a), putting him in a tie for fourth in the league in scoring...Springfield was 0/5 on the power play, but held Connecticut scoreless on its six man-advantage chances...Weber had an assist on Russell's goal for his second pro point. The assist was the first of his career...Russell is on a three-game point streak (2g-1a)