DAINTON STEPS IN, FALCONS SWEEP ADMIRALS
Norfolk, Va. - With standout goaltender Curtis McElhinney receiving a rare night off, Paul Dainton took advantage of his second start of the season on Saturday evening at the Norfolk Scope, making 33 saves for his first win of 2012-2013 and helping the Springfield Falcons (10-2-0-2) complete a two-game weekend sweep of the Norfolk Admirals (7-7-0-0) with a 5-2 victory. Springfield stayed alone in first place in the Eastern Conference at 22 points by beating Norfolk for the second-straight night and third time in as many tries this season.
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Dalton Smith lit the lamp for the first time since the season opener on Oct. 13, skating through the left circle toward the net and backhanding a puck by the glove of Admirals goaltender Igor Bobkov to establish a 1-0 Springfield advantage at 4:51 of the initial stanza.
The lead lasted under a minute, as Chris Wagner slid in a rebound past Dainton off a Mat Clark shot to tie the contest at 5:38, 1-1.
Springfield jumped back in front on the last of its three first-period power-play chances. John Moore picked the puck up in the right circle, skated toward the net, and snapped it past Bobkov at 19:39 for the 2-1 edge.
The Falcons built on their lead in the second period, as Tim Erixon collected a feed from Jonathan Audy-Marchessault at the blue line, skated to the slot, and drove the puck past Bobkov's stick for a 3-1 cushion at 5:29.
The Admirals closed to within one at 8:49 of the middle frame when Peter Holland finished off a two-on-one rush by lifting a puck over Dainton's glove from the left circle, narrowing the margin to 3-2.
The early stages of the third period proved to be a back-and-forth affair, but the Falcons gained some valuable breathing room off the stick of Nick Holden. The defenseman took a puck to the left circle and slapped it past Bobkov's stick and under the cross bar for his first marker of the campaign, increasing the lead to 4-2 at 14:08.
Springfield's two-goal bubble forced Norfolk to take a chance when going on a late power play. Admirals head coach Trent Yawney pulled Bobkov to create a six-on-four situation. David Savard pounced on an empty-net opportunity moments later, pushing in his first goal of the campaign to clinch the 5-2 win at 16:59.
Receiving his first action in three weeks, Dainton (1-0-1) allowed only two goals on 35 shots. He has permitted just four goals on 73 attempts in two appearances in 2012-2013.
Bobkov (3-4-0) set aside 25 of 29 Falcon bids.
The Falcons have earned points in nine of the last 10 games (7-1-0-2) and have given their opponents little to work with offensively all season. Saturday's game marked the 13th of 14 outings in which Springfield limited a foe to two goals or less during regulation. The Falcons' team goals-against average is 1.64, as Springfield gave up just six opposition tallies on the three-game road swing this week.
Springfield concludes its away stretch in Portland on Friday, Nov. 23 when it meets the Pirates.
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).
Erixon set a career-high with his fourth goal of the season...He scored three with Connecticut in his rookie campaign of 2011-2012...Tim Spencer's assist on Smith's goal marked his first point of the season...The Falcons are 7-0-0-0 when leading after the first period and 9-0-0-0 when bringing the lead into the third period...Springfield improved to 3-0-0-0 against Norfolk in 2012-2013...The two clubs close out the season series on Dec. 30 in Springfield...Four of the five goals tonight were scored by Springfield defensemen...The Falcons have scored short-handed goals in back-to-back games...Savard's empty-net goal was Springfield's first of that variety this season...The last Falcon empty netter was registered by Wade MacLeod on Apr. 13, 2012 against Adirondack