Providence, R.I. – Curtis McElhinney set a career high with 47 saves and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored two goals and added an assist on Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin Donuts Center, guiding the Springfield Falcons (19-9-2-3) to a 4-1 victory over the Providence Bruins (17-13-0-2).
McElhinney earned his league-leading 17th win, as the Falcons extended their Northeast Division lead to six points over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Falcons registered a power-play goal for the fifth-straight game to commence the scoring early. After Bruins goaltender Mike Hutchinson made a save on a shot by Sean Collins, Nick Holden took the rebound and centered the puck for Audy-Marchessault in the left circle. Audy-Marchessault drove the puck into a gaping cage at 1:24 for a 1-0 Springfield lead.
After missing a wide-open net on the doorstep with the Bruins about to go on the man advantage, Jamie Tardif made the most of a second opportunity once the power play began. Tardif skated to the top of the crease and redirected a Ryan Spooner feed by McElhinney at 4:05 of the second, tying the game, 1-1.
Providence outshot Springfield in the second period, 21-4, but the teams skated into the final frame tied after McElhinney made several critical stops on the Bruins in the middle stanza.
The Falcons avoided facing a deficit after Kevan Miller embarked on a penalty shot at 5:22 of the third but rang the right post on his attempt.
Springfield increased the pressure as the period progressed, getting more pucks toward Hutchinson and turning momentum in their favor.
The Falcons broke through for the go-ahead tally just after the midway point of the third. Audy-Marchessault centered a puck to the left circle for Ryan Johansen, who fired it by Hutchinson’s glove at 10:02 to put Springfield in front for good, 2-1.
Moments later, Collins tipped a Providence clearing attempt to Audy-Marchessault, leading to another Springfield scoring chance. Audy-Marchessault skated to the slot and ripped a shot past Hutchinson’s stick under the net at 11:46 for valuable insurance, 3-1.
Ryan Craig capped off his 31st birthday celebration with an empty-net goal, backhanding a puck in at 19:25 to make it 4-1.
McElhinney (17-5-2) broke his previous record of 46 saves, set in a 4-2 Springfield win in St. John’s on Dec. 8. Hutchinson (4-7-1) made 23 stops, as Providence outshot Springfield, 48-24.
The Falcons head to Worcester on Friday before returning home to the MassMutual Center to host the Bruins on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Comcast is the presenting sponsor. Fans can win a free bicycle courtesy of Gus Coelho Auto Repair at 442 Holyoke St. in Ludlow as part of “Cycle Saturday” at the MassMutual Center (GusAutoRepair.net).
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).
Audy-Marchessault posted his first multi-goal game of the season and first since he scored twice for Connecticut against Portland on Mar. 18, 2012…He became the fifth Falcon with at least 10 goals this season and moved into a tie for eighth in the league with 33 points…Craig has points in five-straight games (4g-1a)..Cam Atkinson’s five-game point streak (2g-6a) came to an end…Craig tied Atkinson for ninth in Falcons history with his 49th goal in a Springfield sweater…Springfield improved to 8-1-0-0 in Sunday games and 4-1-0-0 in the final contest of a three-in-three stretch…The 24-shot deficit the Falcons faced was their largest of the season…The penalty-shot attempt against Springfield was the first since Jan. 25, 2012, (Brandon Mashinter, Worcester, no goal)…Collins set a career high with three points, all assists