On Saturday night in Springfield, in front of 6433 fans, with the Calder Cup in the building, with the Falcons wearing commemorative Calder Cup sweaters, with arguably the most popular and one of the most successful coaches in Springfield hockey history in the house (Jimmy Roberts), Anton Khudobin channeled netminders past, mixed in skills from the modern era and singlehandedly was responsible for the Providence Bruins' first win of the season, as the visitors lashed the Springfield Falcons by a 4-1 score at the MassMutual Center.
Much like the Falcons in their 7-4 win the previous night in Wilkes-Barre, the visitors showed a strong power play as the Bruins notched the first two goals of the game, both with the man advantage.
The second was especially deflating, as Josh Hennessy beat Paul Dainton with just 2.5 seconds remaining in the second period.
This loss was not due to any weaknesses on the part of the Falcons. They played a solid two way game for most of the night, the highlight being a Dane Byers power play goal at 9:07 of the second period. That made the score 2-1 in favor of Providence, but it just seemed to make Khudobin that much more resolute. The Bruins had started the season 0-3, scoring just three goals while allowing 15.
No matter how determined the Falcons offense was, if there was any penetration of the Bruin defense, Khudobin was more than equal to the task.
As frustrating as solving Khudobin might have been, equally as much was seeing John Moore injured in the third period, not to return for the balance of the contest. Moore was face down on the ice briefly, and trainer Tom Bourdon helped tend to the fallen Moore. John got up and with the help of his teammates, skated to the tunnel where the Falcons enter and exit the ice surface. From where I sat, across from the tunnel, it was clear that Moore was hopping/limping on one foot as he made his way down the tunnel back to the Falcons locker room.
After the B's extended their lead to 3-1, the Falcons on the power play, with time running out, chose to pull goalie Paul Dainton with about 3 minutes left in regulation. Despite the brief 6 on 4 advantage, Bruins netminder Khudobin stood tall between the pipes for the B's.
Summing up, the fewest losses in a season in the AHL were the 1992-92 Binghamton Rangers, who went 57-13-10 (The 1937-38 Cleveland Barons went 25-12-11 in a 48 game schedule). There will be nights when no matter how potent the offense, that you just come up short. Saturday night in Springfield was one of those nights. No team goes undefeated. This certainly wasn't a pleasing start to the home schedule, but it's one of those nights where a hot goalie took two points for his team.
The Falcons are back on the MassMutual Center ice this afternoon for a 3PM contest when the Manchester Monarchs come to town. If you're in the area, it's Magnetic Schedule day, as well as free public skating after the game on the MassMutual Center ice.