Falcons Game 31: Khudobined, Again

Maybe one day Anton Khudobin will be a Falcons goalie. The MassMutual Center in Springfield undoubtedly has to be one of his favorite rinks. Once again on Friday night, he stoned the Falcons, turning in a Patrick Roy like performance, making 39 saves to get the Providence Bruins into a shootout against the Falcons.

In the shootout, he stopped four of five Falcon attempts, while Manny Legace, starting his ninth straight game for Springfield surrendered two shootout goals, giving the Bruins a 2-1 shootout win in what was a terrific hockey game in front of a big crowd.

The last home game of 2011 had a playoff like feel to it, right from the opening faceoff.

A scoreless first period in no way meant a boring period of hockey. The action was end to end frantic, with just one minor penalty whistled against the Bruins Nathan McIver for holding the stick late in the period. The Falcons outshot the visitors 11-6.

The second period saw the action get more physical, with a brawl early in the period. Bobby Robins of Providence, ironically up on a PTO from the Chicago Express, kneed Alexandre Giroux, something which Dalton Prout of the Falcons did not take kindly to in the least. Prout was all over Robins instantly, defending Giroux. Robins was assessed seven minutes and Prout five for the melee.

Robins first shift after leaving the penalty box saw the play down in front of Legace. For the only time of the night, the Falcons defenders were out of position when they keyed on men in the corners, while Martin St. Pierre was involved on a backcheck. The puck was passed blindly from the corner by Carter "Happy" Camper, and the streaking Robins had just enough to get the puck past Legace to give the B's the 1-0 lead.

Once again, the Falcons outshot and outplayed the visitors, this time by a 16-10 margin, giving Springfield the two period offensive advantage, 27-17.

The third period was as well played a period as you'll see in the AHL. As I said earlier, it looked more like playoff hockey than a mid-season tilt. The action flowed from end to end, with very few play stoppages. The goaltending remained spectacular at both ends of the ice.

With the period drawing to its midpoint, the Falcons were again controlling the Bruins zone. St. Pierre found a wide open Brent Regner, who was gliding in from the point. Regner let go a laser wrist shot that Maksim Mayorov got his stick on to finally beat Khudobin and tie the game at 1-1.

Once the game was finally tied, the goalies stole the remainder of the show, each making some 10 bell stops. Watching, there was little doubt that this game would end up going to the extra session.

The game did just that, and Khudobin not just shut the door on the Falcons, but he slammed it in their faces. In the overtime period, the Falcons outshot the B's 4-1, with several scoring opportunities, all turned aside by the Bruins goalie.

The hockey purist in me would have been satisifed after such a great hockey game to see the night end with a 1-1 tie. We did however have to go to the shootout to send one club home with the extra standings point.

The first two shooters for the Bruins, Calle Ridderwall and Jamie Arniel (Scott's nephew) beat Legace. Meanwhile, Alex Giroux scored in the second round for Springfield. That was as close as it would get, with the Bruins taking the extra point in a game that without Khudobin, would have easily been a Falcons win.

The Falcons don't have long to rest up. They play this afternoon/evening at 5PM in Hartford against the Whale. Last night, the Whale fell to the Worcester Sharks 4-3 in Worcester.

Friday's Three Stars:
1-Anton Khudobin
2-Maksim Mayorov
3-Manny Legace

Connecticut is in first place in the Northeast Division of the AHL, with a record of 18-10-1-3 for 40 points, while the Falcons are fourth in the division, checking in at 14-15-1-1- for 30 points.



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