Springfield, Mass. (falconsahl.com) — On a donnybrook-filled Friday evening at the MassMutual Center that featured a 2012-2013 AHL single-game high 242-combined penalty minutes, the Springfield Falcons (30-12-4-3) put together a near-flawless outing on the ice and beat down the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-22-3-3), 5-2.
Springfield increased its Northeast Division lead to 11 points over the Connecticut Whale and pulled to within a point of Syracuse for the Eastern Conference’s top spot heading into a Saturday night road battle with the Crunch.
Cody Goloubef’s blue-line blast in his first game back from Columbus sailed through a screen and eyed its way past Bridgeport goaltender Kevin Poulin at 14:55 of the opening frame, giving Springfield a 1-0 lead.
The Falcons opened up their advantage in the second period, dominating the Sound Tigers with an 11-2 middle-stanza shots bulge.
Cody Bass charged the net at 11:29 of the second and jammed a centering feed from Nick Drazenovic by Poulin from within the crease, making it 2-0.
Ryan Russell corralled the puck following a Springfield face-off win and snapped a shot from the top of the circle by Poulin at 18:17, extending the edge to 3-0.
At 4:27 of the third period, the game’s first of three major incidents occurred as Dalton Smith and Nino Niederreiter began to fight. Smith received a game misconduct (aggressor), while Mike Halmo, who stepped in for Niederreiter, was ejected as well (continuing altercation). Bass and Matt Donovan also were handed game misconducts on the play (secondary altercation). The two game misconducts against Springfield were the club’s first in 2012-2013.
The Falcons wound up facing a four-minute shorthanded situation, but Springfield limited Bridgeport’s chances and then capitalized on Andrew Joudrey’s penalty-killing prowess. Joudrey escaped on a breakaway, was tripped up on his way in, and was awarded a penalty shot by referee Graham Skilliter. The sixth-year veteran fired the puck past Poulin on his opportunity from the slot at 6:19, upping Springfield’s cushion to 4-0.
The second brawl began as Jordan Hill ran down Dalton Prout following a two-minute boarding penalty at 7:51. Prout swung down Hill, and the latter collected a 10-minute misconduct (instigating), while Scott Campbell picked up a game misconduct (secondary alteraction) at the same juncture, as all players on the ice paired off again.
Moments later, Nathan McIver jumped Jonathan Audy-Marchessault in Bridgeport’s end and fired a few punches before Ryan Craig intervened. McIver (aggressor) and Craig (third man in) each secured game misconducts at 9:29.
The action settled down in the final half of the third, and Springfield continued to dictate terms as time elapsed. Ryan Johansen grooved a shot over Poulin’s glove at 17:32, increasing Springfield’s lead to 5-0.
Springfield goaltender Curtis McElhinney’s shutout bid was denied with 2:10 left, as Kirill Kabanov scored on a breakaway to put the Sound Tigers on the board, 5-1.
Jon Landry whistled a shot by McElhinney’s stick with eight seconds to go, and Springfield prevailed, 5-2.
The Falcons garnered their 30th victory on a night where each team crushed their respective single-game highs in penalty minutes. Springfield’s previous peak was 29 penalty minutes on Dec. 27 against Albany, before accumulating 95 on Friday. Bridgeport’s club apex of 56 penalty minutes was shattered, as the Sound Tigers compiled 147, the most by any team in an AHL contest this season.
Springfield upped its league-best points percentage to .684.
McElhinney (21-9-2) set aside 20 of 22 shots. Poulin (15-14-3) let in five goals on Springfield’s 31 attempts.
The Falcons venture to Syracuse on Saturday to meet the Crunch at 7:30 p.m. before closing out the weekend on Sunday in Worcester against the Sharks at 3:00 p.m.
Springfield returns to the MassMutual Center to host Adirondack next Friday, concluding its suspended Feb. 17 game at 6:05 p.m. before playing a full-game versus the Phantoms at 7:30 p.m. The Falcons welcome Providence to The Nest on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and finish off their 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).
Goloubef has goals in three-straight AHL games dating back to Feb. 1 and tied a career high within the same league with his fifth tally of the season…He also has one NHL conversion in 2012-2013…Bass’ goal was his first of the season…Russell netted his first goal since Dec. 29 against Connecticut…Joudrey’s shorthanded goal was his second of that variety this year and tied Craig for the team lead in that category…His penalty-shot conversion was Springfield’s first since Bass scored on one on Mar. 10, 2012 against Syracuse…Johansen became the first Falcon to equal Cam Atkinson for the team lead at 17 goals…Atkinson had 17 when he played his final game with Springfield on Jan. 6 before his recall to Columbus at the start of the NHL season…Springfield’s last game misconduct had been on Apr. 1, 2012 in Worcester…It was taken by Aaron Bogosian…Smith’s 10-minute misconduct was Springfield’s first of the season…The Falcons had been one of three remaining teams in the league without a game misconduct or a match penalty, and was the last to obtain a 10-minute misconduct…Grand Rapids and Rockford’s 230 combined penalty minutes on Jan. 19 had been the previous 2012-2013 AHL single-game high…The IceHogs’ 139 penalty minutes had been the most in a game by one team this year…Springfield reached the 30-win mark in 49 contests, quicker than it ever had in franchise history…The Falcons’ previous record for quickest to 30 wins had been 55 games in 1995-1996…With an assist on Goloubef’s goal, Craig extended his point streak to nine games (4-7)…He equaled Atkinson for the longest point streak by a Falcon this season…Johansen increased his point streak to seven games (5g-4a)…Drazenovic lengthened his point streak to six games (3g-6a)…Springfield was 6/6 on the penalty kill and has been perfect in shorthanded situations in five of its last six games.