Falcons continue long losing skid against Penguins
SPRINGFIELD – A Feb. 3 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins extended the Springfield Falcons’ losing streak to six games.
Matt Murray and the Penguins shut out the Falcons for the third time this season, topping them, 4-0, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The loss puts the Falcons at 26-16-4-0. The teams will meet once more this season to complete the four-game season series.
Falcons goaltender Scott Munroe stopped 22 of 26 shots in defeat. Murray registered another shutout against the Falcons, turning away all 28 shots. Power-play success spelled the difference between the teams. Springfield was unable to convert on three opportunities, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored on three of five man-advantages.
After a quiet first period, the Penguins struck with just over a minute remaining. While on the power play, Scott Wilson received a pass from Nick Drazenovic in the right circle. Wilson cut towards the net and lifted the puck over Munroe’s left shoulder to enter the first intermission leading the Falcons, 1-0.
The Penguins extended their lead early in the third frame. Bryan Rust carried the puck into the Falcons’ zone and threw a feed to Nick D'Agostino in the high slot. Munroe made a kick save on D'Agostino’s one-timer, but left the rebound out for Rust to clean up at the 4:07 mark.
Late in the third period, Ryan Craig was whistled for a high-sticking double minor followed shortly by a high-sticking minor on Brett Ponich, allowing Andrew Ebbett to strike twice in 55 seconds during 5-on-3 play. Ebbett notched both tallies on similar plays, one-timing shots from the right wing circle, to down the Falcons, 4-0.
Earlier in the week, on Jan. 30, the Penguins blanked the Falcons, 5-0 at the MassMutual Center.
The Falcons were also downed, 5-0, by the Penguins when the teams met for the first time on Oct. 24.
Falcons goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 13 of 17 shots before being replaced by Scott Munroe halfway through the second period. Munroe went on to stop all 10 shots he faced. Murray earned his fourth shutout of the season, turning away all 26 shots. Springfield was unable to convert on two power-play opportunities, while allowing two goals on five Wilkes-Barre/Scranton man-advantages.
The Penguins came out strong and built a three-goal lead in the first period. With Luke Adam in the box for hooking, the Penguins notched their first tally seven minutes into the frame. Dansk made the initial save on a slap shot by Tom Kostopoulos from the right point. The rebound was left out in the slot for Jayson Megna to clean up with a backhander.
The Penguins extended their lead six minutes later. A cross-slot pass by Nick Drazenovic set Kostopoulos up to place the puck top shelf from the right wing circle for his second point of the period.
Tyler Chorney’s wrist shot from the high slot with 2:40 remaining in the first gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead over the Falcons to close out the period.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued to dominate, lighting the lamp two more times during the second period. At the 8:55 mark, Drazenovic started the play at the right point with a cross-slot pass to Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot sent it back across for Conor Sheary to fire the puck just under the cross bar for the Penguin’s fourth tally of the night.
Rust beat a Falcons defender and got past the netminder a minute later to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up 5-0 and chase Dansk from the game.
An even third period gave the Penguins a 5-0 victory over the Falcons.
On Jan. 31, The Falcons were defeated by the Hartford Wolf Pack 3-1 at the XL Center.
The Falcons are 2-2-1-0 in the 10-game season series with the Wolf Pack.
Munroe turned away 30 of 32 shots, while his Wolf Pack counterpart Mackenzie Skapski stopped 22 of 23 in victory. Springfield was unable to convert on four power play opportunities. The penalty kill unit shut down three of four Hartford man-advantages.
The Wolf Pack attacked on the power play and took an early 1-0 lead over the Falcons in the first period. Just 3:15 in, Danny Kristo fired a shot that missed wide and ricocheted off the end boards. Chris Mueller grabbed the rebound and a quick pass to Marek Hrivik in the slot put Hartford on the board.
The Falcons responded at the 7:38 mark of the second period, but the Wolf Pack took back the lead before the second intermission. Josh Anderson threw a cross-crease pass to Marko Dano, who notched his ninth goal of the season. Luke Adam earned credit for the secondary assist.
With 4:49 remaining in the middle frame, Munroe made the save on Kristo’s shot from the slot, but the puck trickled through and across the goal line to give the Wolf Pack a 2-1 lead.
Joey Crabb added an empty net goal at the end of the third to down the Falcons, 3-1.
Springfield returns home to the MassMutual Center to host the Albany Devils on Friday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.