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Falcons bounce back with much-needed weekend sweep

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Make no mistake: the Falcons were not at their best in a 2-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday night.

They were slow out of the gate and trailed all the way through. Only a late third-period goal from Tomas Kubalik drew Springfield within striking distance, and it was never that close. The Penguins owned the pace of the game from the start and Beau Bennett's pair of goals were good enough to be the difference.

Fast forward to this past weekend. The Falcons made their first trip to Norfolk, the home of the Admirals who are just a few months removed from breezing through the Calder Cup playoffs en route to a well-deserved championship.

Granted, it's a brand-new affiliation for the Admirals (moving from Tampa Bay to Anaheim over the offseason) but there is a strong winning tradition within the walls of the Scope Arena.

The Falcons mustered quite the weekend, answering Wednesday's disappointing loss with a pair of victories over Norfolk and regaining control of first place in the Eastern Conference.

It didn't start off as smooth sailing, but Springfield steadied itself as things moved along.

Patrick Maroon opened Friday night's game with a quick tally just 38 seconds into the game. He caught Curtis McElhinney off-guard by wrapping the puck around the far-side post and giving the Admirals an early lead -- quite the role reversal for the Falcons, who had made a habit of scoring the first goal this season.

But a fluky goal from Sean Collins might have been the spark to get Springfield going. He skated down the left wing boards and floated a seemingly harmless wrist shot toward Admirals goaltender Frederik Andersen, who never looked comfortable and was beaten inside the post.

Former Blue Jackets defenseman Nate Guenin ripped home a power-play goal later in the opening period, giving Norfolk a 2-1 lead before it was time for "Camsanity" to break loose.

Cam Atkinson, as he's more commonly known, scored a pair of beautiful goals -- one on the power play and the eventual game-winner while shorthanded -- to propel the Falcons into the driver's seat.

Norfolk brought the house in the third period, but McElhinney was equal to the challenge. The Admirals registered 20 shots on goal in the final frame but the wily veteran turned them all aside.

After an eventful third period on Friday, McElhinney was granted the night off on Saturday and once again, Paul Dainton stepped in and produced a solid effort between the pipes.

Dainton stopped 33 shots in Springfield's resounding 5-2 win, and Tim Erixon's second-period snipe stood as the game-winner.

And unlike Friday night, the Falcons got on the board first and took the early momentum away from Norfolk. Rookie Dalton Smith scored his first goal since opening night at 4:51, and John Moore added another goal in the closing moments of the first period to stake the Falcons to a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

The Admirals would only draw within one the rest of the way, and holding a 3-2 lead with just under six minutes to play, Nick Holden buried a rocket from the left side to give Springfield a 4-2 lead.

David Savard scored into the empty net with with 3:01 left, sealing the Falcons' second straight win.

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