Falcons Battle Through Wild Second Period, Surrender in Overtime
Portland, Maine - The Springfield Falcons (10-2-1-2) fought through a five-goal second-period rally by the Portland Pirates (7-7-1-1) on Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center, battling back to force overtime but eventually falling in the sudden-death frame, 6-5. Despite the loss, Springfield secured a point to reclaim sole ownership of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Springfield, which scored three times in the opening period against Portland on Oct. 28 in an eventual 3-2 win, took a multi-goal lead after the first 20 minutes once again by lighting the lamp twice.
With the Falcons breaking in on a three-on-one rush, John Moore corralled a Dalton Smith feed in the slot and snapped the puck through the pads of Portland goaltender Chad Johnson at 10:54 for the 1-0 advantage.
Moments later, the Falcons found themselves on a five-on-three power play, and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault wasted little time in helping Springfield's cause. Positioned at the top of the left circle, Audy-Marchessault blasted a Nick Drazenovic set up over Johnson's glove and just under the cross bar, as the Falcons built a 2-0 lead at 12:21.
After Alex Bolduc cut Springfield's lead in half to 2-1 by burying a rebound 28 seconds into the middle frame, the Falcons used a pair of goals to take a seemingly comfortable advantage.
David Savard, who skated the first 13 games of the season without a goal, connected for the second-straight contest. The third-year defenseman flicked a puck in from the right point at 1:00 for a 3-1 Falcons lead. On the play, Savard extended his point streak to five games (2g-5a), the longest by any Falcon this season.
Cam Atkinson appeared to put Springfield in the driver's seat at 4:12, wristing a puck in from the left circle with the Falcons on the man advantage for his team-leading seventh tally of the year, making it 4-1 and chasing Johnson from the contest. Mark Visentin entered the game in relief of Johnson.
The Falcons, who had given up more than two goals in a game in regulation just once this season on Oct. 20, looked to have a stranglehold on the action after Atkinson's marker. Their grip quickly weakened, however, as the Pirates put together four-straight goals on the power play in the second to seize the lead.
Michael Stone fired a puck in from the right point at 6:45, drawing Portland to within a pair of goals at 4-2.
At 8:45, Bolduc tipped in a centering feed on the doorstep, as Springfield's cushion diminished to 4-3.
Chris Brown wristed a puck in from the right circle at 9:33 to know the score, 4-4, as the Falcons allowed more than three goals for the first time in 2012-2013.
Stone capped the furious Pirates rally at 13:18, driving the puck in from the middle point for the 5-4 edge and chasing Springfield goaltender Curtis McElhinney from the game for the first time this season. He was replaced by Paul Dainton.
The Falcons displayed little quit, as Sean Collins jammed in a puck at the top of the crease at 17:24, capping the eight-goal second-period battle and squaring the contest, 5-5.
Both Dainton and Visentin calmed the action down in relief, contributing to a scoreless third period and sending the game into overtime.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson knocked in a loose puck from the slot just 19 seconds into the sudden-death session, as Portland prevailed with the 6-5 comeback win.
Dainton (1-1-1) stopped 13 of 14 shots in 27:01 of game action but was saddled with the losing decision. McElhinney made 18 saves on 23 attempts in 33:18. Visentin (2-3-1) relinquished just one goal on 15 shots in 36:07 after replacing Johnson, who gave up four goals on 15 bids in 24:12.
A regulation loss by Syracuse to Binghamton gave the Falcons a one-point lead for first place in the conference over the Crunch at the end of Friday's AHL games.
The Falcons are back at home for "Movember Night presented by Baystate Health" on Saturday night against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m. The first 1,000 fans into the building that night will receive mustaches as part of an effort to generate awareness of prostate cancer and other male illnesses. Springfield closes out the weekend on Sunday at the MassMutual Center versus the Connecticut Whale, with the opening face-off set for 3 p.m.
Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
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