Falcons Game 15: Birds Fall in OT 6-5
Some uncharacteristically undisciplined play cost the Springfield Falcons on Friday night in Portland. Four second period power play goals by the Pirates erased a 4-1 Falcons lead en route to a 6-5 OT win by the Pirates. The OT loss ended the Birds four game road trip with a 2-1-1 record.
John Moore and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault staked Springfield to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Dalton Smith and JAM assisted on Moore's third of the season, while Nick Drazenovic and Ryan Johansen collected the helpers on JAM's sixth of the campaign.
In goal, the reliable Curtis McElhinney turned aside all nine shots by the home club, and by late in the period, it looked like the Falcons were going to set the cruise control on this one.
A quick wake up call was put in for the Falcons when Alexandre Bolduc scored his tenth of the season only 28 seconds into the middle frame.
David Savard's knuckleball from just inside the blueline eluded Pirate goalie Chad Johnson at the one minute mark, bringing the Springfield lead back to two goals, 3-1.
Cam Atkinson ensured Johnson's night was a short one when he buried one from the left side, with help from Savard and Matt Calvert. Exit Johnson, enter Mark Visentin.
After Cam's goal, the period turned into a variation of Bizarro World. The Birds took four minor penalties in a span of just under seven minutes. The Pirates, for these seven minutes, appeared to be the most skilled power play unit of all time. Worst of all in Bizarro World, Curtis McElhinney was a mere mortal.
On each of the PPs, Portland ruthlessly attacked Springfield's defensive zone. They carried the puck in, they passed the puck in. They really owned Springfield's blueline. After the Pirates fourth PPG, their fifth of the period, C-Mac was relieved by Paul Dainton.
This wasn't good Falcons hockey. By the same token, it wasn't bad hockey, either. What it was, was the result of four reaction penalties which is the calling card of undisciplined play. In any event, I think it's safe to assume that the coaching staff won't let this letdown go unnoticed.
Late in the second period, Sean Collins scored his second goal of the season. This goal was pure determination on Collins' part. Coming through the high slot, he took a couple of whacks at the biscuit and finally drove it under Visentin to bring the Falcons back even, 5-5 as the period wound down.
Things settled down in the final frame. Shots were eight apiece, with no goals scored, setting up the overtime session.
After taking the opening draw, Portland quickly took the puck into the Falcons zone where Oliver Ekman-Larsson ended it quickly, just 19 seconds into the extra session.
Friday's Three Strs: (all Pirates)
1 - Alexandre Bolduc
2 - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
3 - Michael Stone
This was the first time this season that some miscues cost the Falcons. With the exception of those seven minutes in the second period, this game was mostly Falcons. Portland coach Ray Edwards pulled Chad Johnson at just the right time, giving his team an opportunity to re-focus on the task at hand. They executed very well on the PP, and that can't be taken away from them.
The Falcons return to The Nest on Saturday night when they take on the Manchester Monarchs, top affiliate of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Springfield's three-in-three wraps up on Sunday afternoon when the Connecticut Whale come to town for a 3PM game.