Falcons 3, Phantoms 2 4/20
The Springfield Falcons, a team that needed this win to increase their chances of taking the No. 2 seed in the conference and the extra round of home ice advantage that comes with it, scored two quick goals in the second period and survived Adirondack's comeback to win 3-2 at the Civic Center.
The loss guaranteed that this will be the statistically worst season in the Phantoms' franchise's 17-year history. They can do no better than 69 points, and the previous record for fewest points in a season was set during 2006-07. That team had 70, though it did play four more games. Still, unless the Phantoms score 15 goals tomorrow, this will be the lowest-scoring season -- by far -- in team history.
After Mark Alt scored his first professional goal -- the one that won the 15-round shootout didn't officially count -- to tie the game 1-1 in the second period, the Phantoms surrendered the go-ahead goal less than a minute later. Spencer Machacek banged home Nick Drazenovic's centering feed, and Drazenovic made a heck of a play to set up another goal by Jake Hansen later in that frame. He carried the puck into the zone, beat two defensemen as he cut across the ice to the left wing, and then slid a pass to the slot for Jake Hansen to tap home to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
That was pretty much your ballgame, though the Phantoms didn't do themselves any favors early. Boone Jenner scored just 89 seconds after puck drop, the fourth time the Falcons scored the first goal in the opening six minutes in six tries against the Phantoms this year. Reporters asked Phantoms coach Terry Murray what about the Falcons made that statistic possible, and he gave good insight:
"They understand the importance of just playing the right way," Murray said. "Play their own game, stay above the puck, hoping that they can pressure the puck at the right time and create a turnover. They counter back off those situations and they got the look they wanted here again tonight. That's the way it was the last time we played in Springfield. They come out after winning the third period to win that one game, they really overwhelmed us. They came hard with a lot of pucks to the net. Whenever they get the lead, they've got the mindset that is the proper one. They know how to shut things down."
The Phantoms tried to stage another dramatic comeback like they did in Sunday's game.
They pulled within a goal when Rob Bordson scored shorthanded early in the third, and fired a slew of point-blank chances toward former RPI goalie Allen York with less than 10 seconds to go. The biggest one came when he denied Scott Laughton with about three seconds on the clock. It was the kind of high-energy, desperate hockey that would get the Phantoms places if they did it earlier.
“You ask yourself after the game, ‘Why?’” Bordson said. “‘Why in the third? Why can’t we do that in the second?’”
If they haven't figured that out by the 75th game of the season, they're probably not going to this year.
There's much more from Murray and Bordson in the print story, available here. Did you know that this is the 40th one-goal game the Phantoms have played this year? Now you do.
More after the finale in Albany tomorrow,