With a prime opportunity to gain ground on three teams in front of the Falcons in the race for a playoff spot, the Falcons instead went in the opposite direction, losing three straight games this weekend.
The Falcons lost a 5-2 game against Albany in front of nearly 6,000 people at the MassMutual Center, and dropped two road games against Portland (5-3) and Providence (4-3) that sandwiched the home affair, dropping to 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference.
In all three games the Falcons had to attempt to come from behind from multi-goal deficits in the first period.
In the weekend’s first game against the Pirates, Springfield fell behind by two goals in the first 3:10 of the game, allowing Patrick O’Sullivan to score on a breakaway in the first minute, then giving up a second goal to David Rundbland. Even after Cam Atkinson recorded a goal on a tip, the Pirates again scored to take a two-goal lead into the second period, and then extended that lead with O’Sullivan scoring on another breakaway. Portland potted a fifth goal to take a four-goal lead and while Andrew Joudrey and Matt Calvert scored goals in the second and third periods respectively, the hole was too deep.
The following night in Springfield, Mark Dekanich dug the team into a canyon, allowing four goals on the first eight Albany shots he faced in the game and was replaced by Manny Legace after the first intermission. It marked the fourth-straight game in which Dekanich has allowed four goals. It could be rust from so much time off, or it could be a lost season due to early injuries for the former AHL All-Star. Last season, Dekanich recorded a 2.02 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. This season, the Colgate product has a 4.00 goals against average and he’s stopped less than 87 percent of the shots he’s faced.
Legace was solid in relief, stopping 18 of 19 shots, but the Falcons could not muster anything offensively until the third period when Atkinson and Claude Giroux found the back of the cage, cutting a four goal deficit down to two with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Kory Nagy sealed the game for Albany, with the game’s final goal 1:01 later.
Hoping to salvage at least a couple of points out of the weekend, the Falcons traveled to Providence where they once again fell behind early. Legace faced just 19 shots, but having played all but one period of the previous two games, he clearly wasn’t his sharpest, giving up four goals in the first two periods. The Falcons came on strong in the third, trailing 4-1, with Joudrey potting a goal and Nick Drazenovic scoring his first goal since returning from a concussion. Springfield couldn’t get a fourth one by Bruins netminder Anton Khubodin, however.
The Falcons will try to head into the All-Star break on a better note as they prepare to play three games in four days, starting Wednesday on the road against the Worcester Sharks. The Falcons will then travel to Portland for a Friday night game against the Pirates, then end the week at home against the Connecticut Whale on Saturday.
Cam Atkinson continues to dazzle in his first full season in the AHL.
The 22-year old right wing is in the top-5 in rookie scoring with 33 points (23 goals, 10 assists) in 38 games, ranking second among first-year players in goals behind only Norfolk’s Cory Conacher.
He also is already fourth in Falcons history in goals by a rookie through 38 contests, tying Jeff Taffe, who had 23 goals in his entire first season with the Falcons in 2002-03 season. Atkinson has a chance to catch and surpass Daniel Briere, whose 36 rookie goals is tops all-time. Jason Jaspers is a distant second after potting 25 goals during the 2000-01 season and Tomas Kubalik is third on that list with 24 goals last season.
Atkinson has recorded at least one point in six of his last eight games, averaging a goal per game over that stretch.