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GAME DAY BLOG: Falcons vs. Pirates

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

4:40 P.M. --
You just knew it was coming.

After being thoroughly dominated in the first period, Portland had the counterpunch in the second. Once again, the Falcons ran into penalty trouble and it cost them a 5-on-3 goal against. About midway through the middle frame, the Pirates got another goal to cut the lead to 3-2, and it seemed to surprise Springfield a little bit.

QUICK TAKE: The Pirates score a lot of goals, yes, but one thing is abundantly clear: they make opponents pay for mistakes. Springfield took back-to-back penalties that were relatively careless, and you just can't give an offensively talented club over 90 seconds of two-man advantage time. The Falcons penalty killers did well in the early moments of the power play, but Michael Stone ripped a slap shot behind Curtis McElhinney with 14 seconds left in the 5-on-3 to get Portland on the board.

Springfield's three-goal lead was cut to a single goal minutes later, as a centering pass richocheted around and squeaked between McElhinney's pads. The Falcons have their work cut out for them in the third period as it looks like the Pirates have awakened from a first-period slumber.

3:40 P.M. -- I've caught my breath after the first period, but I'm not sure the Portland Pirates have. Mercy.

To say it was all Falcons in the opening 20 minutes is an enormous understatement. Springfield had the first eight shots of the hockey game and capitalized on their first power play chance. The Falcons lead 3-0 after the first and have a 19-4 advantage in shots on goal.

QUICK TAKE: Matt Calvert, who has arguably been Springfield's most consistent performer thus far, got things going with a beautiful re-direct in the high slot. Nick Drazenovic made a nice play off the half boards to get the puck into the scoring area, and Calvert just had to open his blade to beat Mark Visentin above his blocker. Today's game marked the sixth straight contest in which Springfield has scored the opening goal. If you're looking for a recipe for success, scoring first with regularity is a pretty good start.

Andrew Joudrey made it a 2-0 Falcons lead on what looked like a benign play. He carried the puck through the neutral zone late in a Portland power play, and when he saw how much room the Pirates defense was giving him, he took a few more strides toward the cage and ripped a wrister by Visentin. In the closing moments of the period, Ryan Johansen banged in a rebound from Cody Goloubef's shot from the right point.

The Falcons can expect a determined response from Portland in the second period, and as Brad Larsen discussed last night, they need to remain disciplined and stay out of the penalty box.

1:30 P.M. -- Continuing our series of prospect profiles on JacketsTV, we spent some time with Falcons forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. We talked about his hometown, his favorite movies and foods, and a lot more. You can catch the full prospect profile right here:

12:45 P.M. -- This wouldn't be a Falcons game day blog without some photos from game action so far this season. As always, big thanks to our friends in Springfield for the great photos:

12:30 P.M. -- Welcome to the first afternoon "three in three" edition of the game day blog, covering everything you need to know about our top affiliate in Springfield. The Falcons suffered a tough shootout loss last night at home to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but the good news is that Paul Dainton was stellar in his season debut.

He made 36 saves in regulation/overtime and several more in the shootout, but David Ullstrom won the game with a beautiful backhand deke under the crossbar in the seventh round of the skills competition.

Today, the Falcons take on the Portland Pirates, who could best be described as hot and cold. They lead the American Hockey League in scoring 4.83 goals per game, but also allow a league-worst 4.33 goals per game. So far, they've managed to scratch out a 3-2-1 record but it has been anything but easy.

Portland is coming off a 4-2 win over Binghamton last night, but their wildest game came earlier this week. They traded goal after goal with the St. John's IceCaps, eventually losing 8-7 in overtime. Alexandre Bolduc is their go-to guy, currently riding a five-game goal scoring streak and leads the AHL with six goals on the year. He and former Detroit Red Wings (among others) farmhand Chris Conner lead the Pirates in points (10) and are a big reason why the Portland power play is operating at nearly 21 percent efficiency.

To this point, Chad Johnson has been the Pirates leading man between the pipes, but it's possible he could give way to former Canadian World Junior star Mark Visentin for this afternoon's tilt.

Let's start things off today with post-game comments from Brad Larsen after last night's shootout loss:

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