McElhinney whitewashes Portland, closes in on Legace's shutout record


Feb. 13, 2013
SPRINGFIELD – Curtis McElhinney tied a career high with his seventh shutout of the season as the Springfield Falcons braved the remnants of Winter Storm Nemo and blanked the Portland Pirates on Feb. 11 at the MassMutual Center, 3-0.

McElhinney, who set a Falcons record for shutouts in a campaign earlier this season, added to that club mark with 29 saves as he silenced his former club. Springfield won its third-straight game, prevailing in its first contest in over a week after Friday's matchup with Albany was postponed due to the weather.

Following a scoreless opening frame, Wade MacLeod took advantage of a Pirates' hiccup to put Springfield on the board. MacLeod charged the Portland net to chase down a Falcons dump-in, took the puck away from Pirates netminder Chad Johnson, and backhanded it into a gaping net at 14 seconds, as Springfield grabbed a 1-0 edge.

Later in the period, Jake Hansen and Dalton Smith crashed the net and jammed away at the puck around the edge of the cage. Smith worked the puck free along the right goal line and centered it for Ryan Johansen, who chipped it by Johnson at 17:24, increasing Springfield's cushion to 2-0.

Springfield extended its power-play goal-scoring streak to four games in the beginning stages of the third to put Portland away. Nick Drazenovic won a face-off for Ryan Craig, who snapped the puck immediately to David Savard at the blue line. Savard walked to the middle point and fired a shot by Johnson at 3:02, as Springfield upped its advantage to 3-0.

Portland's best scoring chance of the game came moments later with McElhinney sprawled on the ice and Chris Brown with the puck in the right circle. With a good look at an open net, Brown shot the puck well over the crossbar, and McElhinney maintained his shutout bid.

McElhinney (20-7-2), in his 30th outing with Springfield, moved to one shy of Manny Legace's team record for shutouts in a career. Legace accumulated eight with Springfield over 153 appearances.

Johnson (14-9-0) posted 25 stops, as Portland's three-game winning streak ended while being shut out for the first time this season.

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The Falcons announced on Feb. 12 that defenseman Nick Holden has been assigned to the club by its NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Holden, who was recalled by the Blue Jackets for the first time this season on Feb. 3, played in two games during his stint with Columbus, going scoreless while compiling a +1 rating and averaging 8:35 of ice time. He is tied for second among Springfield defensemen with 22 points (4g-18a) and is fourth among all Falcon skaters at +13 in 44 contests.

A fifth-year pro, Holden made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets in 2010-2011 and was scoreless for Columbus that season in five games. He has played in 266 AHL contests, totaling 101 points (21 goals, 80 assists) with the Falcons and the Syracuse Crunch. Holden, a 25-year-old from St. Albert, Alberta, has been under contract with Columbus during his entire professional career and was re-signed to a one-year agreement by the Blue Jackets on June 30, 2012.

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On Feb. 16, when Springfield welcomes the Portland Pirates back to the Pioneer Valley, the first 1,000 fans into the building will receive a Falcons winter hat, courtesy of Health New England. Fans can also win a free bicycle from Gus Coelho Auto Repair at 442 Holyoke St. in Ludlow as part of "Cycle Saturday."

The Falcons will have their annual team poster giveaway, courtesy of Friendly's, on Feb. 17 versus the Adirondack Phantoms. Following the action, fans are invited to participate in a postgame skate, presented by Western New England University, before having their posters signed by Falcons players in the MassMutual Center concourse.




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