One of the big stories was not a part of the game. Earlier, it was deemed that Nick Holden's shoulder injury, suffered in his first game back from a leg injury, was severe enough that it requires surgery and Nick is now shut down for the rest of the season. Also gone as Blue Jackets fans know, is Brett Lebda, signed to an NHL deal on Thursday.
Taking their places (and uniform #s) were Greg Amadio (wearing Holden's #5) who was acquired in a trade with the Grand Rapids Griffins in exchange for forward Mike Thomas on Thursday. The other newcomer was Brett Motherwell (wearing Lebda's #21), who was brought in on a PTO after spending the season with the ECHL Chicago Express.
Patrick O'Sullivan of the Pirates is rapidly establishing himself as a sniper for Portland. He only enhanced that reputation, picking up two goals in the game. His first came on the opening shift, when Pirates goalie Justin Pogge gave the puck to defenseman Nathan Oystrick. Oystrick found O'Sullivan open in the neutral zone and fed him for the clean breakaway and goal just 34 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Things took a turn for the worse when the Falcons allowed defenseman David Rundblad a clear shot at Manny Legace. Rundblad's blast beat Legace cleanly at 3:10. Two goals on two shots, and this game was all but in the bag.
Just after the midpoint of the period, Cam Atkinson scored his team leading 22nd goal of the year and his 10th power play goal (2nd in the AHL) on assists from Alexandre Giroux and the returning captain Dane Byers. This was as close as the Falcons would be all night.
Portland scored the next three goals, unanswered. Oystrick lit the lamp at 17:56 of the first. O'Sullivan notched his second of the night at 5:40 of the second period, followed a minute later by Jonathan Szwarz to make it 5-1 and end Manny Legace's night.
Andrew Joudrey brought the Birds back to within three with his sixth marker at 8:45 of the second. Joudrey was set up nicely by the newcomer, Motherwell on the play.
In the third period, the only scoring was a power play tally by Matt Calvert. Calvert's goal was his eighth of the season, assisted by Maksim Mayorov and Martin St. Pierre. Speaking of MSP, he was whistled on a diving call by referee "Blind" Jean Hebert in the first period after basically being savaged by two Pirates. That, combined with a comment I made in the Q2 Report Card, regarding how St. Pierre was mauled by the Providence Bruins last Sunday, tells me that despite the constant beatings he is taking, the refs are watching him closer than the play around him, and that is most definitely NOT a good thing for the Falcons.
A couple of positives coming out of the shellacking. One, in relief of Legace, Mark Dekanich was perfect in turning aside all 14 shots he faced. I would expect Dex to get the start tonight in Springfield. Two, the return of Nick Drazenovic. Drazzy returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion on November 26th. He was kept off the scoresheet (except for a minor penalty for interference), but it was good to see him back in the fold. Finally, the play of newcomer Brett Motherwell was encouraging. It's always tough to figure long range plans for players on PTOs, but Motherwell turned in a nice effort on a night that was otherwise dismal.
The Falcons are back at it tonight when the