SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The NHL lockout has provided the Springfield Falcons with quite an advantage thanks to the abundance of blue chip prospects in the Columbus Blue Jackets system.
The biggest asset on the team that holds the American Hockey League record for missing the playoffs is speed and that gave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fits in a 4-2 loss to the Falcons Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
The Penguins had little choice but to make an attempt at neutralizing that speed by playing physical.
It didn‚??t work.
All it did was cause penalty problems for the Penguins. They may have allowed only one power-play goal to the Falcons, who are off to a 3-0 start for the first time in franchise history, but the rash of penalties wore them down trying to negate Springfield‚??s power play.
The Penguins hope to shake off their 0-2 start when they return home to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight.
They did manage to erase a 2-0 deficit thanks to third period power-play goals by Joe Morrow and Phillippe Dupuis, but the Falcons answered with goals by Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen later in the period to close out the game.
‚??Those two power-play goals gave us a chance and we started playing the way we want to play,‚?Ě coach John Hynes said. ‚??But we‚??ve got to be more consistent.‚?Ě
Ryan Craig, who served as the Penguins captain the past two seasons, was not a factor on the scoresheet, but did make his presence felt. He‚??s now the Falcons‚?? captain for the second time in his career.
Craig was digging for the puck in the slot when he was given a hip check from former teammate Philip Samuelsson. More than anyone, Craig knew the Penguins would be a tough team to play against and he reminded his new team of that.
The key to the game was puck possession. The Falcons controlled play, especially during a one-sided first period that saw them jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The Penguins picked up the intensity during the second period, but goalie Curtis McElhinney wouldn‚??t budge.
It was a frustrating 20 minutes for the Penguins, who had nothing to show for that effort.
The Falcons could not have been more pleased with the way they dicated the tempo of the game in the opening period. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, a 24-goal scorer for the Connecticut Whale last season, opened the scoring with a power-play goal.
Johansen carried the puck inbto the zone and gave it to David Savard. The defenseman, who is adept at being a quarterback on the power play, passed to Audy-Marchessault who scored on a slap shot from the top of the left circle at 5:43 to stake Springfield to a 1-0 lead.
SPR ‚?? Audy Marchessault (2) (Savard, Johansen), 5:43
SPR ‚?? Moore (1) (Calvert, Drazenovic), 15:07 Second Period:
No Scoring Third Period: PENGUINS ‚?? Morrow (1), (Ferriero, Smith), 6:44 PENGUINS ‚?? Dupuis (1), (Bennett Dumoulin), 8:41 SPR ‚?? Atkinson (1), (Audy-Marchessault), 11:10 SPR ‚?? Johansen (2), (Atkinson, Audy-Marchessault), 16:02 Penalties: SPR: 10 PENGUINS: 10 Three Stars: SPR ‚?? Cam Atkinson, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Curtis McElhinney Officials: Jamie Koharski, Referee, Glen Cooke, Linesman, Robert St. Lawrence, Linesman Arena: MassMutual Center Attendance: 2,555