The Connecticut Whale really wanted to win this game.
Does it add emphasis to say they *really* wanted it? Worth a try.
Less than a week after taking a 10-2 walloping on the chin in their own building, the Whale targeted tonight's game in Springfield as a perfect chance to get even with the Falcons.
To break it down: Connecticut started poorly, took too many penalties, and were beaten by two power-play goals from an old friend named Tim Erixon. Erixon, who racked up 30 assists for the Whale last season, has scored three goals in two games against his former club -- and that's only since Sunday.
After things settled down and emotions quelled, the Falcons were the better club in this game and deserved the victory. They capitalized on a myriad of mental errors by the Whale, who handed out power play after power play (including two 5-on-3s) and tempted fate on too many occasions.
Springfield wasn't without its own blemishes, but Brad Larsen's club righted itself at just the appropriate time. The Falcons out-shot Connecticut by an 18-7 margin in the first period, but didn't break through until their 29th shot of the game.
Tommy Grant took a holding penalty and got into a fight with Ryan Craig at 19:29 of the second period, and the extra minor carried over to start the third.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault put the puck on a tee for Erixon at the center point, and he blasted the one-timer through traffic and behind Cam Talbot to put Springfield ahead -- the ninth straight game in which the Falcons scored the opening goal.
If it's been any wonder why they have been successful, getting out in front of teams is a big reason.
The Falcons added to that lead as the Whale continued to make themselves comfortable in the penalty box. A boarding penalty on Kris Newbury supplemented by Christian Thomas earning a bench minor for arguing the call put Springfield on a two-man advantage, and after a slew of attempts failed, Erixon applied the dagger.
Nick Drazenovic got him the puck at the right circle, and Erixon pounded another slap shot by Talbot for a 2-0 lead with 6:05 to play.
Things got chippy in the final minutes, as was expected.
The Whale took more penalties due to post-whistle scrums and it allowed Springfield to coast to the finish line, improving to 7-1-2 on the season and back into first place in the AHL's Eastern Conference.
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