All in all, it could have been worse. Entering the weekend, the Falcons were just two points out of the playoff race. Exiting the weekend, the Falcons are now three points back. The biggest concern now is that there is one less week to go in the regular season. Only eight regular season games remain for Springfield, who suddenly face a large hurdle to clear if they expect to end their eight season long playoff drought. The game summary and a look at the Eastern Conference playoff race follows after the jump:
After enduring a four hour bus ride from Glens Falls, NY to Wilkes-Barre, PA and the requisite 2AM arrival, the Falcons took to the ice looking worn out. Coach Rob Riley started Mike Clemente in goal after giving the first two games of the weekend to Paul Dainton. Clemente was busy in the opening period as the Pens outshot the Falcons by a 13-4 margin.
The Falcons scored on their first shot of the game at the 6:13 mark. Matt Calvert finished off a perfect pass from Wade MacLeod for the goal. Calvert was streaking through the high slot when MacLeod put the puck right on his stick. Patrick Cullity earned the other helper. Jason Williams brought the Pens even at 9:40 with his 11th of the season.
The second period got off to a big start for the Falcons when Alexandre Giroux buried his 24th of the season on assists from Maksim Mayorov and Martin St. Pierre at 2:33. Similar to the Calvert goal earlier, Giroux got in deep and didn't miss the opportunity to cleanly beat Patrick Killeen in the WBS cage. The goal added to the resume of the future AHL Hall of Famer, as it both tied Mitch Lamoreux for seventh on the all time goal list at 364, but also made him just the 23rd player in the 76 year history of the AHL to score 700 points.
One of the prettiest goals you'll ever see came off the stick of Captain Dane Byers. Byers, Calvert and Ryan Garlock worked a give-and-go, odd-man rush. A complete thing of beauty, Garlock got the puck to Byers at the top of the crease. Byzee promptly roofed it to open up a two goal lead for Springfield.
Sadly, that is where the Falcons offense ended. Three goals on nine shots was admirable. Then, seemingly only in Falcons World, the Birds completely dominated the offense in the third period, firing 17 shots at Killeen, who shut down the Falcons when they really could have built on early momentum to snatch at least a point in the standings. It was not to be though, as the Penguins scored the final four goals of the game to ice a 5-3 victory over Springfield.
A quick look at some other games that affected the Eastern Conference standings:
Binghamton 4 at Adirondack 5
Too little, too late. After trailing 5-1 early in the third period, the Sens scored three unanswered goals, but ran out of time.
Connecticut 3 at Bridgeport 4 OT
Matt Donovan scored the winner with less than two seconds left in the overtime period for the Sound Tigers win.
Worcester 1 at Manchester 5
The Sharks dropped to 3-6-1 in their last 10. Justin Azevedo paced the Monarchs with 2 goals and 2 assists.
Portland 1 at Providence 2 SO
Jamie Arniel scored the shootout winner while Michael Hutchinson and Justin Pogge both turned in great efforts in the nets.
Eastern Conference standings after Saturday's action (6th through 14th):
6. Bridgeport 75 points, 10 games remaining
7. Manchester 73 points, 8 games remaining
8. Syracuse 71 points, 9 games remaining
9. Adirondack 69 points, 9 games remaining
10. Providence 69 points, 8 games remaining
11. Portland 68 points, 9 games remaining
12. Springfield 68 points, 8 games remaining
13. Worcester 67 points, 11 games remaining
14. Albany 67 points, 9 games remaining
The Falcons return to action next Friday night at 7PM when they travel to Bridgeport, CT to battle the Sound Tigers.
Stay tuned to The Cannon as the Falcons continue their quest for the Calder Cup playoffs!