Falcons Game 34: Calvert Leads Falcons over Whale

Matt Calvert sealed a 5-4 shootout victory over the first place Connecticut Whale at the XL Center in Hartford. Calvert's shootout heroics followed his third period tally to get the Falcons back in striking distance. Friday night's Falcons hero, Cam Atkinson, took warmups but then was scratched, apparently suffering an injury; possibly a carryover from his Friday night fight.

The other big news for the Falcons, as well as the Blue Jackets, was the first start of the season of Mark Dekanich. Dex showed flashes of brilliance in goal and there were some that were just not so much. Kris Newbury was the first to solve Dekanich just over four minutes into the game when he notched a power play tally.

After that first goal, Dex and the Falcons (sounds like a 50s band) settled down and put together an entertaining period of hockey. The culmination was in the final minute of the first period when the Falcons netted two goals.

The first was another Alexandre Giroux beauty, set up by Martin St. Pierre. Just 18 seconds later, Andrew Joudrey gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead when he finished off a Matt Calvert pass for his third goal of the season.

The teams battled through a hard fought, scoreless second period which set the stage for the third period fireworks that saw the teams combine for five goals.

The Whale came out quickly with Jordan Owens picking up his fourth goal of the season at 1:24. Falcons nemesis Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored his 13th of the season (and it seems like all 13 have been against Springfield) while Brett Lebda sat in the box for hooking. The Whale then marked their third straight goal of the period when Newbury registered his 15th goal of the season when he beat Dekanich from a similar location to his first period marker.

Audy-Marchessault was whistled for a slashing penalty at 14:57 (tonight's referee was for the second straight night, "Blind" Keith Kaval...another poorly officiated game). Calvert rallied the troops, when he redirected a Dalton Prout point shot to bring the Falcons to within one.

The final minute, where the Falcons have struggled, couldn't have worked out any better tonight. Martin St. Pierre found the back of the net on assists from Wade MacLeod and Alex Giroux with just 35 seconds left in regulation.

Given that the Falcons were 0-5 coming into this game against the Whale, the Birds wisely protected the puck over the final half minute, saving their point by taking the game to overtime.

Dekanich was the difference in the five minute extra session as he turned aside all six Whale shots that he faced. Connecticut goalie Chad Johnson was untested in the OT, as the Falcons didn't get off any shots.

Then, for the second consecutive night, it was back to a shootout. The first two rounds went scoreless. The third round started with Brendan Bell solving Dekanich to give the Whale a 1-0 advantage. Alex Giroux then came up short, and things started to look bleak for the Falcons.

Andreas Thuresson was then stopped point blank by Dekanich to start the fourth round. Springfield's fourth shooter was Brent Regner. Regner went in on Johnson, and in the course of stick handling in close, lost the puck momentarily. Brent had the presence of mind to go with it, and with only a split second before he was too deep, got a shot off that tucked neatly inside the goal post to tie the shootout.

Dekanich rejected Jordan Owens in round five, leaving the game to Matt Calvert. Calvert swooped in and confidently beat Johnson for the deciding goal in the shootout, giving the Falcons their first win against the Whale this season.

Saturday's Three Stars:
1-Matt Calvert
2-Kris Newbury
3-Jonathan Audy-Marchessault

The Falcons bid for a six point weekend concludes Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center when the Whale come to town for a 3PM game.
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