ATKINSON'S SPECIAL SECOND PERIOD LIFTS FALCONS BY ADMIRALS
Norfolk, Va. - Cam Atkinson registered a pair of special teams goals in the second period on Friday night at the Norfolk Scope, scoring on the power play and in a short-handed situation to steer the Springfield Falcons (9-2-0-2) by the Norfolk Admirals (7-6-0-0), 3-2. Curtis McElhinney made a season-high 36 saves for his league-leading ninth victory, as the Falcons maintained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference at 20 points with the win.
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Patrick Maroon sprung the Admirals' efforts just 38 seconds into the game, taking a puck at the right side of the net and jamming it inside the post past the glove of McElhinney to pace Norfolk to an early 1-0 lead.
After taking a feed from David Savard, Sean Collins skated toward the left-wing boards and feathered a puck from a sharp angle past the stick of Admirals netminder Frederik Andersen at 4:32 of the opening frame, tying the score, 1-1. The goal was Collins' first of the season.
Nate Guenin snapped in a wrist shot from center point at 15:17 with the Admirals on a power play later in the period, as Norfolk jumped back in front, 2-1.
The Falcons faced that deficit past the halfway point of the game, but Atkinson took advantage of a pair of special-teams situations to flip the contest in Springfield's favor.
With the Falcons on their fifth power play, Nick Drazenovic snapped a puck from the right circle to Atkinson, who was cutting to the net backdoor. Atkinson one-timed Drazenovic's feed on the doorstep by Andersen's blocker to deadlock the score, 2-2, at 10:54.
Having posted his first power-play goal of the season, the second-year pro then collected his opening short-handed strike of 2012-2013. Atkinson raced to the left circle in Norfolk's end with the Admirals on the man advantage and snapped the puck over Andersen's glove, guiding Springfield to a 3-2 edge at 15:22. The two-goal outing put Atkinson into a tie with Nick Drazenovic for the team lead with six tallies and gave the second-year pro 14 points, good for first place among Falcon skaters.
After Springfield presented its goaltender with a one-goal lead, McElhinney (9-2-1) took care of the rest. The eighth-year pro saw 20 shots in the final frame - the most given up by the Falcons in a single period this season - and set aside each of Norfolk's late bids. McElhinney and the Falcons have allowed two goals or fewer in regulation in 12 of the 13 games this season, including nine-straight outings with less than three against.
Andersen (4-3-0) stopped 28 of Springfield's 31 attempts.
Springfield concludes the weekend in Norfolk on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m.
The Falcons return home for "Movember Night presented by Baystate Health" on Saturday, Nov. 24 against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m. The first 1,000 fans into the building that night will receive mustaches as part of an effort to generate awareness of prostate cancer and other male illnesses.
Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
The Falcons improved to 4-0-0-0 following a loss this season...Atkinson's short-handed goal was Springfield second of the season and first since Andrew Joudrey struck in that situation on Oct. 28 against Portland...It marked the Falcons' first unassisted goal since Apr. 14 of last season, when Daniel New connected versus St. John's...McElhinney's 36 saves were a personal best this season and tied Paul Dainton for the most by a Falcon in 2012-2013...The 20 third-period shots by Norfolk were the most by an opponent against Springfield since Syracuse registered 20 on Mar. 10, 2012...Atkinson led the Falcons with 13 power-play goals in 2011-2012