POST GAME: Falcons 5, Whale 0
Curtis McElhinney ties franchise record with fifth shutout as Springfield bounces back against its top rival
SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (12-4-4) 5, CONNECTICUT WHALE (9-9-2) 0
XL Center | Hartford, CT
After two games in Connecticut this season, it's safe to say the Whale's net is over capacity.
The Falcons have some kind of swagger going on when they enter the XL Center and it was on display again tonight. Springfield cruised to a 5-0 win over Connecticut -- its second in two tries in Hartford this season -- improving their aggregate to 15-2 in those games. They have also dropped a 2-0 shutout on the Whale at MassMutual Center.
Curtis McElhinney, back between the pipes after getting a night off on Saturday, made 34 saves and was stellar in earning his fifth shutout of the season -- tying a franchise record set in 1995-96 by Manny Legace.
And, like it was in the Falcons' 10-2 win a couple of weeks ago, this game was all Springfield from the drop of the puck. Their downhill style of play returned and the forecheck was rolling, allowing Brad Larsen to get all four lines involved (and make use of some line changes, as well).
Cam Atkinson got things started with a power play goal at 2:23 of the opening period, cleaning up a rebound on the doorstep created by Jonathan Audy-Marchessault's wrister from the left circle. It was his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Later in the first period, Audy-Marchessault partnered with Ryan Johansen on a beautiful give-and-go sequence that Johansen finished off for his seventh goal of the year. Before the opening frame drew to a close, John Moore put a perfect slap-pass on Matt Calvert's stick blade for a re-direct and a 3-0 lead.
The suddenly red-hot Sean Collins snapped home his fifth of the season at 9:46 of the second period, a rising wrister that caught Whale netminder Jason Missiaen by surprise.
Falcons captain Ryan Craig -- on a scoring streak of his own -- tapped home a rebound in the third period to supply the final margin.
Holding a 2-0 lead and looking to be in pretty good shape, the Falcons needed an insurance tally to make the cushion a bit more comfortable. Calvert's goal did just that; Moore put a perfect pass right on the tape, and Calvert just opened the blade slightly to tip it past Missiaen and put the Whale in a big hole after 20 minutes of play.
1. Curtis McElhinney (SPR) -- 34 saves, shutout (5)
2. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (SPR) -- two assists
3. Ryan Johansen (SPR) -- goal
at St. John's IceCaps
Mile One Centre | St. John's, NF
Friday, 6 p.m.