Falcons Game 54: Birds Tame Sound Tigers in Shootout

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers brought their 16-1-1 record in their last 18 games to the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Friday night. Unlike the last meeting between the two teams in Bridgeport, the Falcons showed a steely defensive resolve and held the Sound Tigers to just one goal in 65 minutes, on their way to a 2-1 shootout win over the visitors.

The Falcons had a distinctively different look, specifically short one #13 Cam Atkinson from the lineup. Atkinson, earlier in the day, was recalled by the Columbus Blue Jackets. By the time you're reading this, you already know that Cam returned to the Jackets lineup tonight in the game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Unless the Jackets are actively shopping Atkinson to other clubs with the pending Monday trade deadline, this move made absolutely no sense to this blogger. Atkinson in Springfield is integral to the Falcons slim playoff hopes. He has earned his spot on the top line. Going into Friday's action, he is tied for second in the AHL in goals scored. He is in a three way tie for the league lead in power play goals with 13. He is fourth among league rookies with 44 points in 50 games. Let's be honest here, all season long when the Jackets needed a forward, it was ABC: Anybody But Cam. Now, that the season is a foregone conclusion in Columbus, this is the time to "reward" Atkinson with a meaningless call-up? No, this one was a bad choice by Scott Howson, unless, as I said, Atkinson is being showcased for a Monday deal. A better choice to fill out a wing would be Kubalik, Calvert even Mayorov. I kid you not, the AHL game sheet for this game has the Falcons listed as having one RW in the lineup and SEVEN left wings. After MassLive reported on the Atkinson call-up, there were several naysayers who commented on the move and the health of the Jackets relationship in general. For the record, none of the comments were mine. Now, back to our regularly scheduled game recap...

A scoreless first period was highlighted by

Aaron Bogosian

(one of SEVEN LW's in the lineup!) giving Blair Riley a solid dose of what-for. The tussle was only 2:44 into the game, so it was akin to marking one's territory.
The only other item of note from the opening stanza was a penalty shot awarded to

Maksim Mayorov

, which resulted in no goal for the Birds.

Paul Dainton

was in net for the Falcons. Dainton was a last minute replacement for

Manny Legace

. Legace was pencilled in to start, but tweaked himself at this morning's skate. During the pre-game warmup, he reaggravated himself and was unable to go. Dainton turned in a solid first 20, as did

Anders Nilsson

in the Sound Tigers goal.
A largely uneventful second period saw the Sound Tigers take a 1-0 lead when Blair Riley notched his second goal of the season. Former Falcon

Trevor Frischmon

picked up an assist along with

Aaron Ness

. The Falcons outshot Bridgeport 11-9 in the period and took a 21-19 lead in shots into the final period.
The third period was spinning its wheels when the unthinkable happened:

Adam Mair

scored his first goal in a Falcons uniform! The play was a beauty, Mair capitalized on a loose puck at the top of the left faceoff circle and let one rip that severely beat Nilsson high on the stick side to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was credited to

Wade MacLeod

, but it was clearly Mair who let the shot rip with absolutely no deflection on the blast.
The remainder of the period as well as the five minute overtime session produced no more scoring, leading to the shootout finish.
In the all-or-nothing world of the modified skills competition, it was both in this one. No goals through the first three shooters, then we had five straight goals.

Tomas Kubalik


Matt Calvert

and Maksim Mayorov for the Falcons outdueled

David Ullstrom


Jon Landry

for Bridgeport. That left it up to Kael Mouillierat for the Sound Tigers. Streaking in, he took a dart of a wrister from the high slot. A little bit of Dainton's glove, a little bit of the post...either way it was no goal and a huge Falcons win.
This was one of those big wins that without their sparkplug Atkinson in the lineup, the Falcons could have mentally checked out against a club that waxed them 8-1 last time out. Instead, the Falcons stepped up, playing a solid defensive game en route to the hard earned shootout win.

Tonight's Three Stars:
1 - Adam Mair
2 - Anders Nilsson
3 - Paul Dainton

Another three-in-three, there's little time to enjoy tonight's win, as the Falcons get back at it on Saturday night at The Nest when the Connecticut Whale pay their final visit of the regular season. Game time is 7PM.

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