SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (4-1-0) 3, PROVIDENCE BRUINS (2-3-0)
Dunkin Donuts Center | Providence, RI
There's an old saying in golf: it's a score card, not a post card.
As messy as tonight's game in Providence began (and ended), it's safe to say that such a phrase was fairly applicable. Both the Falcons and Bruins had 5-on-3 power plays in the first period, there were countless post-whistle skirmishes, and it was a typical divisional showdown between these two teams.
Curtis McElhinney made 33 saves to record his second shutout of the young season as Springfield improved to 4-1-0 with a 3-0 win at the Dunkin Donuts Center. In their first road contest of the season, the Falcons started slow but got better as the game wore on, eventually using their north-south game to force Providence into too many mistakes.
Through five games this season, the Falcons have given up seven goals. You read that correctly.
David Savard and Tim Erixon took minor penalties in short order early in the first period, giving the Bruins the first quality opportunity of the game. During a 93-second two-man advantage, McElhinney and the Springfield penalty killers were solid, per usual, clogging the shooting lanes and rifling pucks down the ice and out of trouble.
Later in the period, the Falcons took advantage of a chance given to them. Providence ran into careless penalty trouble, taking back-to-back penalties for closing a hand on the puck and also a face-off violation.
It took Springfield just eight seconds to cash in on the power play. Ryan Craig slid a pass across the box to Nick Drazenovic, who one-touched the puck behind Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg for a 1-0 lead.
Making his Falcons debut in 2012-13, Ryan Russell needed just one period to elapse before getting his name on the scoresheet. Ryan Johansen got Russell the puck in the high slot, and after one spin move shook of a defender, Russell whipped a shot inside the far post behind Svedberg to make it 2-0.
Aside from Cody Bass mixing things up midway through the second period, it was a quiet middle stanza and the Falcons began the third period with a two-goal lead on the road.
Cam Atkinson added a much-needed insurance tally at the 10:57 mark of the third, tapping in a rebound of Matt Calvert's rocket shot from the right circle.
Brad Larsen can't be too pleased with his team's penalty issues, but the silver lining has been a very solid penalty killing unit. Veterans like Ryan Craig, Cody Bass, Andrew Joudrey and Ryan Russell are all experienced players who keep things simple, especially while down a man.
The Bruins were 0-for-5 on the power play tonight and really never got anything going. McElhinney made some key stops and got a lot of help from the guys in front of him, but even though they were called on often, it never seemed as though they were overworked.
Highlighting a perfect night on the PK was the team's 5-on-3 kill in the first period that gave the bench a lift and started to tilt the play in their favor.
1. Nick Drazenovic (SPR) -- one goal
2. Curtis McElhinney (SPR) -- 33 saves, shutout
3. Ryan Russell (SPR) -- one goal
vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Saturday, 7 p.m.
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.