The Springfield Falcons made it a perfect 3 for 3 weekend, defeating the Connecticut Whale 4-2 Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Sunday's clash was the back half of a home and home set between the two clubs. The Falcons came into this one energized from their shootout victory in Hartford on Saturday night.
The teams exchanged words during the pre-game warmups, most likely based on Andre Deveaux's suspendable hit of Patrick Cullity on Saturday night in Hartford. The AHL suspension department apparently is closed on weekends and holidays, which allowed Deveaux to be in the middle of the running commentary.
The first period of the game was a mixed bag, which isn't uncommon for the third game in a three day AHL stretch. The clubs combined for six minor penalties, which was mildly surprising, given the early flare up of tempers.
Deveaux, as fate would have it, scored his ninth power play goal (11th overall) with Alexandre Giroux in the penalty box. Deveaux snuck between Teddy Ruth and Dalton Prout and converted a pass from Kris Newbury to give the Whale a 1-0 lead. That was the only goal of the first period, with the teams tied with 13 shots apiece.
The Falcons completely asserted themselves in the middle stanza, when they lit the lamp three times and outshot the Whale 21-9. Matt Calvert picked up his second goal in as many games at 1:45 on the power play. Calvert finished off the play after the setup by Dalton Prout and Brett Lebda.
Dalton Prout took a big shot from the point that Connecticut goalie Cameron Talbot saved but the rebound fell from Talbot's blocker and in its descent, Calvert batted the puck in to tie the game.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Prout executed another point shot, this one sent behind Talbot by Andrew Joudrey to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored his 14th of the season on the power play. Audy-Marchessault was parallel to the goal line and just lobbed one at the Springfield cage. Manny Legace was in the process of hugging the post to his right as the puck came toward him. As he was moving to the post, the puck deflected in off his goalie skate giving the Whale the tying goal.
The third tally for Springfield in the second period came off the stick of Cam Atkinson. Atkinson who missed last night's game after being slashed in the hand on Friday night against Worcester, was his old self in notching his 18th goal of the season at 19:34 of the period. Cam's goal was assisted by Brent Regner and Alexandre Giroux. After the thorough domination, Atkinson's goal was the equivalent of stepping on the Whale's throat.
A chippy third period seemed to center around Andre Deveaux. He had an early penalty for holding. He was on the receiving end of two big hits, first from his Saturday night victim, Patrick Cullity. Then a monster hit from Dalton Prout. Prout was given two for boarding, which was a fairly inappropriate call. Prout went hard, shoulder to shoulder with Deveaux who lost his balance and went careening into the end boards. Did I mention the officiating this weekend was subpar?
After Deveaux returned to the ice from his holding penalty, the Falcons #1 power play unit was still on the ice. Brett Lebda and Alex Giroux passed along the blue line. Giroux rifled a shot from the high slot that deflected off the end boards. Atkinson scooped up the puck and buried it for the insurance marker, his 19th of the season at 14:17.
The center of attention continued to be Deveaux, into the final minutes of the game. Travelling three astride into the Falcons zone, he was hooked as he approached Manny Legace. Referee "Blind" Ryan Murphy was so incensed at this defensive maneuver that he awarded Deveaux a penalty shot. Oh, yes he did. Legace easily turned aside the scoring attempt.
The game wouldn't have been complete without Deveaux looking to flex his muscles one more time. He was sent off for boarding at 19:19, dampening the Whale's chance at pulling Talbot for the extra skater.
At the end of the game, much like in warmups, more words were shared as the teams were starting to go off the ice. The officials had to intervene and it took several minutes to finally clear the ice.
Sunday's Three Stars
1 - Cam Atkinson
2 - Dalton Prout
3 - Brett Lebda
The Birds now have a few days to catch their breath, as they are off until next Friday night when they host the Portland Pirates in the first of another AHL three game in three day stretch.