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POST GAME: Falcons 3, Pirates 2

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
Attendance: 2,187


The good news: Springfield won for the second time in three games, improved its record to 5-1-1 and yielded just two goals to the American Hockey League's top offensive club.

The other stuff: their imperfections (but hey, no one's perfect) include a penalty-prone mentality that is putting a lot of stress on the blue line and goaltending. But each time the penalty kill has been called upon, it seems to rise to the occasion. Springfield has been one of the AHL's most penalized teams, but the proof is in the pudding: they hold the best goals-against average in the league and have given up just 11 goals in the first seven games.

Any coach would take such a stat and pocket it. That's some stingy defending.

One of the toughest tests of life in the AHL is the "three in three" weekend: three days, three games and on occasion, a grueling travel schedule that falls to the mercy of the weather. Such was not the case this weekend, but the Falcons had to dig deep to keep the ball rolling in the early part of the season.

Their 3-2 win over the Portland Pirates today was a gut-check. Springfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and appeared to be in total control, out-shooting Portland 19-4 in the opening frame. But the Pirates had an equally impressive answer in the second period, tallying two goals as the Falcons struggled to stay out of the penalty box.

Matt Calvert's high tip in the slot gave Springfield a 1-0 lead, and Andrew Joudrey scored a beautiful shorthanded goal at 16:51 of the first period to make it a two-goal bulge. With less than a minute to play in the period, Ryan Johansen cashed in a rebound at the front of the net to stake the Falcons to a three-goal lead.

Michael Stone got the first Portland goal on a 93-second two-man advantage stemming from back-to-back Falcons miscues. Ethan Werek's fluky goal at the side of the net pulled the Pirates within a goal at 15:11 of the period, and from then on, things got interesting.

Portland had two more power play chances in the third period, but Curtis McElhinney and the penalty kill stood tall.

One of those third-period power plays came with 6:24 on the clock, and the Falcons clinging to their one-goal lead. Cody Goloubef was whistled for cross-checking behind the net, and the Pirates were staring down the barrel at their best chance to pull even.

They came in waves, sending pucks toward the net from every angle in hopes of catching McElhinney off guard. Cody Bass and Ryan Craig were the pillars on the kill, as usual, clearing loose pucks out of harm's way and stepping in shooting lanes. Springfield's sixth successful penalty kill of the afternoon was its most important, and McElhinney kept a clean sheet the rest of the way.

1. Cody Bass (SPR) - assist
2. Andrew Joudrey (SPR) - SH goal
3. Matt Calvert (SPR) - goal


vs. Hershey Bears
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
Friday, 7 p.m.

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