Yes, the "Argggh" is really a Portland Pirates thing. No kidding.
Twenty minutes were terrific for the Springfield Falcons on Friday night. Forty minutes weren't bad. Sixty minutes pretty much sucked. Sixty-five minutes were adequate. After that? Meh...
The Falcons came out on fire against a Portland Pirates club that had been shutout in its previous two games. How woeful were these Pirates? Woeful enough that they surrendered not one, but two shorthanded goals on the same Pirate power play. Ouch.
The first period was all Falcons, all the time as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Alexandre Giroux was serving hard time for a tripping infraction when Ryan Garlock connected for his fourth marker of the season. Ryan was picked up by Maksim Mayorov and the returning Nick Holden.
Giroux was still in the box when Cam Atkinson put a beauty over Curtis McElhinney making it 2-0 Falcons on the assist from Andrew Joudrey. Two shorties on the same PK and The Nest was rocking! The marker was Cam's 20th of his rookie season!
The second period started off with the Falcons still controlling the ice. The momentum started to shift when Pirates Jordan Szwarz was awarded a penalty shot at 9:27. Szwarz was obstructed as he broke in on Mark Dekanich. Is it me, or are penalty shots given out for some borderline infractions lately? Regardless, Szwarz converted to give the Pirates their first goal in three games. More importantly, it was a key goal making the score 3-1.
Rounding out the first period onslaught, Joudrey notched his fifth goal of the season on an assist from another returnee, Cody Bass. Bass, the reigning AHL Man of the Year, gave us a little taste of how he earned that honor. You might remember that a few weeks ago, no less than Scott Howson tweeted that Bass was done for the season with a shoulder injury. Not so fast, and here he is back in the lineup...and producing!
3-0 Falcons after the first. As if that wasn't enough, they outshot the Pirates 16-5 in the opener. This was looking mighty good at this juncture.
Not to be outdone, Mayorov gave the Falcons their three goal cushion back. He was assisted by Brett Lebda and Martin St. Pierre at 11:45 of the second period. As usual, a terrific feed from MSP and Maks went to one knee and blasted the clean one timer home to extend his point scoring streak to six games.
One place where the Falcons have gotten themselves in trouble lately has been in taking lazy penalties (holding is at the top of the list). The third period was evidence of just that. Stepping onto the ice for the final period, the Falcons were in a little bit of cruise control. Quickly though, Joudrey was called for, you guessed it, holding at 1:24.
Ryan Duncan tallied his eighth goal of the season on that power play at 2:40. Not content to regroup and play their usual game, the Falcons shortly thereafter were called again, this time Ryan Garlock serving a deuce for, yup, holding. The Birds escaped unscathed on that PK, but the worst was yet to come.
Alexandre Giroux was called for high-sticking at 8:43 and only 21 seconds later Brock Trotter brought the Pirates back to within a single goal when he registered his tenth goal.
Big mo by this time had squarely shifted to the Pirates side of the ledger, and you could almost sense the pending doom. Doom wins every time, and at 10:44 Michael Stone let one fly from the blue line that eluded Dekanich, bringing the Pirates even at four. Third period shots reflect the Pirates control of play as they outshot Springfield 13-7 in the final frame.
Overtime was an exciting, end to end session. With time running out, the Falcons appeared to have won the contest. Deep in Portland's end, Martin St. Pierre was cycling when Nick Holden, playing his first game in over a month, crashed into the end boards. Holden lay on the ice, in obvious pain. As St. Pierre was releasing a shot, the official blew his whistle to tend to Holden. The shot went in, but the goal was disallowed because the whistle had been blown and play continued. KatyLovesHockey tweeted after the game:
"Holden has dislocated shoulder."
In the shootout, Brock Trotter and Ryan Duncan found the back of the net for Portland. Cam Atkinson scored in the first round, leaving it all up to Maksim Mayorov on the final shot. McElhinney rejected the attempt, socking away the second point for the visitors.
A quick note on Mark Dekanich. This was the second start for the Falcons by Dex. Since March 16th of last season, he has played in three games. The first, the fateful pre-season tilt for the Blue Jackets in September. Last Saturday night in Hartford and then last night in Springfield.
Dekanich has made some dandy saves in his two outings, but has also let in some shaky goals. Dex has all the moves, and is a legitimate NHL prospect, but he'll need more than these two games to shake off 10 months worth of real game rust.
Friday Three Stars
1. Maksim Mayorov
2. Brock Trotter
3. Andrew Joudrey
The Falcons return to action tonight when they finish up the home and home set in Portland, ME for a 7PM face off. The weekend concludes Sunday afternoon back at The Nest when the Falcons host the Providence Bruins.