FALCONS STIFLED BY STALOCK
Worcester, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (30-14-4-3) outshot the Worcester Sharks (25-21-1-5) by nearly a two-to-one margin on Sunday afternoon, but could not crack goaltender Alex Stalock on their way to a 5-1 loss at the DCU Center.
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Springfield peppered Stalock with 38 shots while conceding only 20 bids to Worcester. The four-goal defeat was the club's largest of the season, but the Falcons held their 10-point lead with four games in hand over the Connecticut Whale for first place in the Northeast Division at the conclusion of the 20th week of the 2012-2013 season.
The Sharks jumped on the Falcons early with a pair of quick strikes.
Jon Matsumoto deflected a puck in Worcester's end and sprung James Livingston ahead on a two-on-one rush. Livingston skated into Springfield's zone and drove a puck over Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney's glove with a wrist shot from the right circle at 4:21 for a 1-0 Sharks lead.
The Sharks added another seconds later to make it 2-0, as Matt Pelech took possession of the puck along the side of the net and quickly stuffed it past McElhinney's right pad at 5:13.
The Falcons attempted to chisel into their deficit, outshooting the Sharks, 11-4, in the first period, but Stalock answered each challenge to keep it a 2-0 game after one.
Springfield continued to hammer away at Stalock in the second, and beat him for the only time in the contest just after the halfway point of the stanza.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault slid the puck to Michael Chaput off of a left-circle face-off in Worcester's end. Chaput gunned the puck over Stalock's glove, off the crossbar, and in at 10:07, bringing Springfield to within a goal, 2-1.
Stalock was perfect the rest of the way and strung together a 13-save final frame. The Sharks' offense finished the job, producing three third-period goals to pull away from the Falcons.
Springfield began the third with a power play, but the Sharks killed it off, and then subsequently extended their cushion to 3-1, as Sebastian Stalberg threaded a puck by McElhinney from a sharp angle along the right-wing boards at 3:02.
Livingston lofted a beautiful entry pass and connected in stride with Marek Viedensky at the top of the right circle. Viedensky blasted a shot over McElhinney at 11:13 to distance the Sharks from the Falcons, 4-1.
Danny Groulx's left-point rocket with Worcester on a late power play soared into the net at 18:30, and the Sharks closed out their 5-1 win.
McElhinney (21-10-2) tied a season high by allowing five goals on 20 shots. Stalock (15-11-3) made 37 saves and equaled Thomas Greiss for the most wins in Sharks history, posting his 74th victory in a Worcester uniform.
The Falcons return to the MassMutual Center to host Adirondack next Friday, concluding their suspended Feb. 17 contest at 6:05 p.m. before playing a full-game versus the Phantoms at 7:30 p.m. Springfield welcomes Providence to The Nest on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and finishes its home three-in-three on Sunday, taking on the Sharks at 3:00 p.m.
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).
Springfield closed the weekend with back-to-back regulation losses for just the third time this season...The Falcons underwent their first road Sunday loss of the season and fell to 10-2-0-0 in overall Sunday competition this season...Springfield allowed three goals in a period for the second-consecutive games after not allowing three in a stanza since Dec. 14...The Falcons allowed a power-play goal to an opponent for the first time since Feb. 12, ending a streak of 26-straight successful kills...Audy-Marchessault's assist marked his team-leading 49th point...Chaput's goal was his first since he scored twice on Feb. 1...Bryan Helmer played in his 1,300th professional game...Helmer previously served as a captain in Worcester for the IceCats...The loss was Springfield's largest since it experienced a 6-2 defeat on Mar. 30, 2012 in Bridgeport...The Falcons allowed more than four goals in a game for just the fourth time all season