Falcons Game 33: Atkinson With an All-Star Performance

There was nothing easy about the Falcons 4-3 shootout win over the Worcester Sharks on Friday night. From the officiating of referee "Blind" Keith Kaval, to the late third period goal that more and more has become a hallmark of Blue Jackets Nation, everything was a challenge for the Falcons. Yet they persevered. And then some.

Without replay in the AHL, Kaval denied Aaron Bogosian his third marker of the season. While the red light went on behind Sharks netminder Tyson Sexsmith, Kaval waved off the goal claiming later that it hit the goalpost and never went in.

Shortly after that, Cam Atkinson scored his team leading 16th goal on a picture perfect breakaway. Manny Legace fed Alexandre Giroux who was skating out of the Falcons zone. Giroux fed Cam the disc as he was splitting two Shark defenders, finding himself alone with Sexsmith and giving the Falcons the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Falcons goal video and more after the jump:
Worcester came out refocused in the second stanza. A power play goal by John McCarthy and an even strength marker by Matt Irwin vaulted the Sharks to a 2-1 lead. With the period winding down, Matt Calvert headed toward the Worcester cage and was slashed by Matt Pelech. The puck and Calvert ended up in the Worcester net. The goal light went on, the horn and "Chelsea Dagger" cranked up.

Kaval waved off his second Falcons goal of the night. Apparently, in the heat of the moment, it was ruled that the puck went into the net off of Calvert's glove. Apparently.

Falcons coach Rob Riley was absolutely 110% screaming mad about the second overturned goal of the night. Truthfully, he was so animated I was worried about his health. As mad as I've seen a man be in a long, long time. WOW!

Here are the regulation goals. The clip also includes the two that were waved off (first and third):


Riley's passion reignited the Falcons as they came out fired up in the final period. Cam Atkinson notched his second goal of the night on the power play at 5:34 on assists from Tomas Kubalik and Brent Regner. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Matt Calvert tipped in a Dane Byers effort to put the Falcons, rightfully, back in the lead at 3-2.

With Sexsmith on the Sharks bench in favor of the extra skater, Jack Combs let one fly from the high slot and through the screen, tied the game once again with just 40 seconds to go in regulation. Late period goals against seem to appear against both the Jackets and the Falcons far too often. I'm not sure if there's a stat that backs that up, maybe Scott Arniel has it handy...

After 60 minutes and a 3-3 draw, the teams went to the five minute extra session. A delay of game call against Worcester's Brodie Reid gave the Birds an OT power play. Blanketing the Sharks zone, the Falcons threw everything they could toward Sexsmith in hopes of ending this one. The Sharks took the full Falcons measure and gave them nothing in return. A fantastic power play and an equally fantastic penalty kill.

Cam Atkinson completed two-thirds of his Gordie Howe hat trick, when he got his first fighting major of his pro career with just 30 seconds remaining in the OT session. Note to Cam: Don't hurt those hands!!!

What was a pretty entertaining game then came down to the skills competition for the extra point. Legace completely shut down the Sharks, stopping the four shots that came his way. After Brent Regner and Alex Giroux were denied by Sexsmith, Atkinson and Kubalik scored to give the Falcons the shootout victory. What a night!

Friday's Three Stars
1. Cam Atkinson
2. Matt Irwin
3. Matt Calvert

The Falcons will need that momentum as they now have a home and home series against the Connecticut Whale. Tonight the teams meet in Hartford at 7PM and tomorrow, it's back to The Nest for a 3PM start.

Finally, Mark Dekanich suited up for the Falcons last night as Legace's backup. The good news was, he didn't get injured. The better news is that coach Riley expects to give him the start in one of these two Connecticut games.


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