After a big win in Adirondack last weekend, the Devils got some well deserved rest. Along with two off ice events, there were only two games on the schedule this week, against two divisional rivals in Bridgeport and Connecticut. And the Devils answered the bell, taking both weekend games and starting to inch closer to getting out of the basement. Now to recap the last two days:
The weekend started off with the first matchup of the year against division rival Bridgeport. The Devils had a great opportunity early on to get ahead, drawing a 1:35 5 on 3 early in the first period. And it appeared so when Mattias Tedenby sent a shot off the net that appeared to cross the goal line. But a video review denied the goal, hence the power outage continued on. Albany made up for that later in the period as Joe Whitney redirected an Adam Larsson shot from the blue line for a 1-0 advantage. Defensively it wasn’t a bad first period either, as the Sound Tigers only managed 3 shots on Keith Kinkaid and the lone Albany penalty was killed off. Second period the Devils got a second 5 on 3 chance…and this time they finally cashed in. Bobby Butler scored his fourth of the year 43 seconds in for a 2-0 lead. Chad Wiseman made it a 3-0 lead 7 minutes later, with Stephen Gionta notching an assist in his first game back. The penalty kill got a test–and passed it–during the third after Jacob Josefson drew a boarding major and Adam Larsson took a 10 minute misconduct for his involvement after the play (or the fact he couldn’t get through his first AHL fight, it wasn’t pretty). Nino Niederreiter broke up Kinkaid’s bid for a second shutout with just 2:07 remaining to make it a 3-1 game. It was the only blemish on Kinkaid’s game all afternoon, as he stopped the other 22 Sound Tiger shots to pick up his third win of the season and #2 star honors. Another strong day for the penalty killers as well, going 4 for 4 against a team who ranked third in the league in power play percentage.
Sunday afternoon the Devils headed southeast to Hartford to take on the Whale, a team coming off a 9-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester the night before. Unlike the day before, when Keith Kinkaid barely had to break a sweat during the first half of the day, he was tested during the first as the Whale outshot Albany 12-6. Second period was all Devils, as they outshot Connecticut 15-6, capped off by Joe Whitney’s 4th goal of the season with just over 13 minutes to go in the period. And the one goal, which normally dooms Albany, turned out to be all Kinkaid needed. Much like the first period, the Whale again outshot the Devils 12-6 during the third, but Kinkaid stopped all 12 shots. He finished with 30 saves and his second shutout of the season, capping off a very good weekend for him. Bobby Butler got the lone assist on Whitney’s goal.
-The weekend sweep gave Albany its first multi game win streak of the season, now up to 3 games. And it was a perfect weekend for the penalty kill, ranked 9th in the league at the start of the day, going 8 for 8. Now about that power play…sure they went 1 for 7 over the two games, but it is still ranked 30th at 8.8 percent.
-Cross another player off the injured list, as Dan Kelly returned to the lineup Saturday night for the first time since November 10th. That leaves Adam Henrique (thumb/surgery) and J.S. Berube…and with Stephen Gionta taking Berube’s #22 in his return to the team, one begins to wonder if Berube is really out long term or even for the season. Raman Hrabarenka suffered a skate cut to his foot during practice mid week and sat out both weekend games. Jay Leach missed Sunday’s game after sustaining a lower body injury on Saturday.
The Week Ahead:
A busy week lies ahead for the Devils. Along with the annual season ticket holder Holiday Skate tomorrow (I will of course be in attendance…not skating, just watching and sipping my hot chocolate), there are three games lined up this week. Wednesday night they host the Penguins, followed by a return trip to Hartford Friday night for a rematch against the Whale. Saturday they host the Bruins in their last home game before Christmas. Now to see if they can build on the winning streak and maybe not be #30 anymore…