The Pirates have now won six in a row, which is the longest current winning streak in the AHL, and stand at 16-10-1-1 on the season and the Falcons fall to 15-6-2-3.
Andy Miele opened the scoring just 1:58 into the first, on the first shot of the game, off a slick lead-in pass from David Rundblad. Miele was able to walk in and tucked the puck under the crossbar, glove side on goalie Allen York for his eighth goal of the season. Oliver Ekman-Larsson picked up a point on the play with the secondary assist.
Springfield scored the next two goals of the game to gain a 2-1 lead. At 7:26, David Savard notched his third goal of the season to tie the game. The goal came from in close to goalie Mark Visentin, off a second chance opportunity. Nick Drazenovic and Nick Holden were credited with assists on the goal.
At 12:03, Portland’s Maxim Goncharov and Springfield’s Ryan Craig were assessed matching minors for cross-checking and holding, respectively. Springfield scored just 18 seconds into the four-on-four play when Ryan Johansen walked in and slipped the puck in down low on Visentin for his tenth of the year and the lead. Tim Erixon and Cam Atkinson were awarded the assists.
No goals were scored during second period play, but the Pirates had a couple great chances to tie the game. During four-on-four play, Brendan Shinnimin stole the puck from a Springfield defender trying to make a play at the blue line. Shinnimin skated the puck into the offensive zone alone; kick faked, but rang the puck off of the crossbar.
At 17:17 of the second, Michael Stone was assessed a boarding penalty after Springfield winger Ryan Russell got in behind him near the hash marks on the near side circle. Russell was able to squeeze a shot off before Stone checked him into the goalpost.
Springfield failed to score on the power play opportunity and Stone received a pass when he stepped out of the box for a breakaway opportunity. He was able to get a good shot on net that York stopped. Brett Hextall then followed up a bid of his own and it appeared that York sustained a leg injury on the play, but he remained in net for the duration of the game.
Portland wasn’t going to let its winning streak come to an end and found the back of the net twice in a span of 26 seconds in the third period to regain the lead and secure the win.
“There’s no doubt in our room. There have been a couple games where we’ve been down and we’ve been doing an unbelievable job of sticking together,” said Hextall of the Pirates mentality when they found themselves down a goal going into the third. “I think our attitude, when things aren’t going our way, we’re staying positive and picking each other up.”
At 14:29, Ekman-Larsson stepped into a shot at the far side faceoff dot that went past York for his eighth goal of the season. Assists were awarded to Chris Brown and Rob Klinkhammer on the goal that tied the game 2-2.
Hextall sealed the win with his goal at 14:55 that gave the Pirates the 3-2 lead. He scored off a nice rush down the nearside boards after Miele gathered the puck and skated into Springfield’s zone and made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Hextall from the bottom of the circle. Hextall didn’t waste the great feed by wristing the puck past York from the hash marks on the inside of the circle for his fifth of the year.
“It feels good,” said Hextall of his tally. “I felt like I’ve had a couple opportunities that I haven’t capitalized on, it feels good to get a few.”
NOTES: Portland scratches included: Chris Summers, Scott Arnold, who was sent to the Pirates’ ECHL affiliate, Gwinnett Gladiators earlier in the day, Jordan Martinook, Joel Rechlicz and Mark Louis. Springfield’s scratches were: John Moore, Greg Amadio, Tim Spencer, Cody Bass, Cody Goloubef, Dalton Smith and Wade MacLeod. Portland went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and Springfield was 0-for-5. The three stars of the game were: (3.) Savard from Springfield, (2.) Ekman-Larsson from Portland and (1.) Miele from Portland.