CONNECTICUT WHALE (9-7-1) 3, SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (10-3-4) 2
MassMutual Center | Springfield, MA
Not only did Ryan Bourque's game-winning goal with 15.6 seconds left seal a heartbreaking defeat, but it provided the first significant adversity faced by the Springfield Falcons this season.
They have dealt with injuries and forming chemistry among a group with a lot of new faces, but a rocking start has them atop the Northeast Division and near the top of the AHL's Eastern Conference.
Springfield's 3-2 loss to rival Connecticut this afternoon at MassMutual Center was its third in a row, and the Falcons have now dropped four of their last six games. They were a quarter of a minute away from forcing overtime for the third straight game and at least salvaging a point, but Paul Dainton was beaten by a puck he would like another shot at.
Bourque skated in down the left wing, got to the top of the left circle and released what looked like a harmless wrister -- but it slid through Dainton's legs and gave the Whale its third and final lead of the day.
Much like their losses on Friday and Saturday night, the Falcons were behind early and had to claw their way back into the game. Matt Gilroy scored his sixth goal of the year to give Connecticut a 1-0 lead just 2:23 into the first period, but Sean Collins -- playing with Ryan Johansen and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault today -- tied the game on a jam play at the side of the net four minutes later.
The Whale regained the lead on a messy play in front of Dainton, as Marek Hrivik just waited for the puck to pop free at the left post. It did, and Hrivik tallied his first goal of the year at 8:07, making for a short-lived tie.
But it was Collins again, scoring a big goal to draw Springfield even. He went top shelf on Jason Missiaen with 4:49 left in the second period, setting the stage for perhaps the most important 20 minutes of the Falcons season.
And unfortunately for the Falcons, they were unscathed for 19:44 of it.
This one's easy. It's hard to say if Bourque really thought he was going to score the winning goal when he crossed the blue line with inside 20 seconds to play, but his goal was deflating for the Falcons, who had played a pretty solid game.
1. Ryan Bourque (CT) - GWG
2. Sean Collins (SPR) - two goals
3. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (SPR) - two assists
at Manchester Monarchs
Verizon Wireless Arena | Manchester, NH
Friday, 7 p.m.