Falcons climb atop Eastern Conference with five-point weekend

Nov. 2, 2012
SPRINGFIELD ­— The Springfield Falcons exploded in the first period and then held off a rally by the Portland Pirates on Oct. 28 at the MassMutual Center to capture a 3-2 victory. With the win, the Falcons moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference entering the fourth week of the 2012-2013 AHL season.

The Falcons did all of their offensive work in the opening frame, dominating the Pirates by outshooting them 19-4 and recording goals of power-play, short-handed, and even-strength varieties.

With Springfield on its opening man-advantage opportunity, Matt Calvert tipped in a Nick Drazenovic feed from the slot, putting Springfield on the board, 1-0, at 4:26.

The Falcons, who scored nine short-handed goals in eight games against the Pirates in 2011-2012, wasted no time in striking while down a man in their first period versus Portland this season. Andrew Joudrey received a long pass from Cody Bass, skated toward the net, and wristed the puck over the stick of Pirates goaltender Mark Visentin at 16:51 for the 2-0 lead. The short-handed marker was Springfield's first of the season and most recent since Adam Mair converted in that situation against Portland on March 16.

Ryan Johansen buried a rebound at the top of the crease off a Cody Goloubef shot with the teams skating five-on-five, increasing the advantage to 3-0 at 19:22. Although still early in the contest, the second-year pro's tally would prove to be the difference.

McElhinney (5-1-0-0) set aside 26 of 28 shots to tie Rochester's David Leggio for the league lead in victories. Visentin (1-1-0-0) stopped 38 of 41 Falcon bids.

The night before, Paul Dainton made 36 saves in his season debut as the Falcons secured a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the MassMutual Center.

On Oct. 27, the Falcons combined strong goaltending from Curtis McElhinney with steady offensive pressure at the Dunkin Donuts Center to blank the Providence Bruins 3-0. The shutout was McElhinney's second of 2012-2013.

Springfield exits the third week of the AHL's regular season with a one-point advantage over the Manchester Monarchs, Norfolk Admirals, and Syracuse Crunch for conference supremacy. The Falcons have points in six of their first seven games for the third time in franchise history, and first since 1997-1998.

The Falcons take on the Hershey Bears on Nov. 2 at the MassMutual Center before heading to Hartford to meet the Connecticut Whale at the XL Center on Nov. 4, with both games commencing at 7 p.m.

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