Springfield, MA, October 22, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Springfield Falcons, 2-1, Saturday night at the MassMutual Center. The game was the first of twelve between the two teams on the season, and the win was the Whale’s second in a row.
Connecticut’s Mats Zuccarello recorded the game-winning goal late in the third period, giving the Whale the lead in what was a low-scoring and hotly contested game. The Whale scored two goals in the third to rally from a 1-0 deficit.
“It was awesome,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “He’s [Zuccarello] been a big time player for us in just the short two games he’s been with us, but he’s pretty good at generating offense for us.”
The first period was scoreless, despite a number of quality chances for the Whale during a pair of power-play opportunities. Connecticut outshot Springfield, 14-8, and dictated the majority of the play, thanks in part of the physical play of a line made up of Jordan Owens, Scott Tanski and Chris McKelvie.
Springfield netminder Dan Taylor (26 saves) made a number of notable saves to keep the frame scoreless, stopping Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Blake Parlett on quality chances.
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead at 5:49 of the second period, as Wade MacLeod cut across the crease in front of Whale goaltender Cam Talbot (32 saves), banging the puck in after getting past the Whale defense. Cam Atkinson and Ray Macias both assisted on the goal, with Macias registering his first point with Springfield.
The Whale were outshot in the second period, 15-4, with Talbot keeping Connecticut in the game with several key saves, including a paddle effort at 16:07.
Connecticut tied it at one 2:41 into the third period, when Audy-Marchessault scored his first professional goal. Audy-Marchessault dug in to the right of Taylor and tapped a Tomas Kundratek rebound past the Springfield goaltender for the equalizer. Andre Deveaux also assisted on the goal.
Talbot continued to stand tall in goal for Connecticut, making a flurry of saves on in-close opportunities at the 13:22 mark.
“I felt really well coming off the shutout last night (a 5-0 home win over the Manchester Monarchs), and again the boys played well in front of me and blocked a lot of shots,” said Talbot. “They just kept throwing pucks at the net, pucks were bouncing off of everything and I tried to control my rebounds the best I could. Sometimes you need to get help from the post and other times you need to get help from your defensemen, and I got a lot of help from both tonight.”
Zuccarello finally gave the Whale a 2-1 lead with 4:53 remaining in the period, with his third goal in two games. Zuccarello was below the goal line when he fired what appeared to be a centering pass, but it deflected off of the goaltender Taylor and in for the go-ahead score. Andreas Thuresson and John Mitchell assisted on the goal.
“I just tried to get it on net and it was a lucky bounce. I’ve done it before,” said a smiling Zuccarello, who admitted that he saw Taylor was a bit far out from the crease and could be vulnerable to a bank shot.
After winning two in a row, the Whale will close out their three games in three days set on Sunday, when they host the Springfield Falcons in an afternoon game at the XL Center (3:00).