A return to steady seas
Last night's thriller in Manchester happened so fast for the Falcons, there really wasn't any time to exhale.
But the weight off their shoulders was undeniable as they shrugged off a three-game losing streak and battled back from a 3-0 deficit after two periods at Verizon Wireless Arena. The Monarchs seemed to be in cruise control, which is like an unintentional green light for an aggressive-by-nature club like Springfield.
First it was Nick Holden sniping one over Martin Jones' shoulder, and minutes later,Matt Calvert one-timed a beauty inside the post...and in an instant, it was a one-goal game. The ice had tilted, the Monarchs were puzzled and Brad Larsen's club was on its way toward ending a skid marred with misfortune.
Rookie forward Dalton Smith probably scored the most vital goal just 11 seconds after the Monarchs had restored a two-goal cushion. It changed the complexion of the game and ignited the Falcons bench.
Two Ryan Craig tallies later (including his 100th career goal) and Springfield had assembled a record five-goal third period and stunned the Monarchs, who could only look at each other post-game and think "what just happened?"
In fairness, the Falcons should be asking the same question of themselves as they prepare for tonight's return engagement with Manchester (albeit in a slightly different context) -- what clicked in that third period, and how do they replicate it?
One thing is certain: it was a complete effort with contributions from all four lines, a hallmark of their early-season success.
Some other notes as we get set for tonight's game at MassMutual Center:
-- Ryan Johansen just needs some points on the board to validate a run of strong play recently. He's been excellent in the offensive zone and has developed a nice rapport with Jonathan Audy-Marchessault on his left wing.
-- Bounce-back effort from Curtis McElhinney last night, and he only got better as the stakes got higher. Some of his best work came as the Falcons tied the game and took the lead in the third period, turning away several Monarchs chances on the power play when they desperately needed a goal.
-- Tomas Kubalik played his first game back from injury last night, and though he wasn't with his usual line mates (Johansen/JAM), I thought he looked pretty good. He's such a force down low in the cycle game, and when he gets back playing with the top line, they're going to be dangerous.
-- With last night's win, the Falcons remained in first place in the Northeast Division and are breathing down Syracuse's neck for the conference's top spot.