The Devils six game…er, five game road trip (thanks to the huge snowstorm that crippled New England) continued this week, with three stops against a division rival and two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. And something amazing happened…not only did they take all three games played this week, the way they won was something no one had seen here all season long. Time to review:
The week began with the third stop on the road trip, Hartford, to take on the Whale. And it didn’t take very long for the visitors to take over. Matt Anderson scored 27 seconds into the game for a very quick 1-0 lead. Phil DeSimone added a power play marker 5 minutes later for a 2-0 advantage, and with that Connecticut called in Cam Talbot from the bullpen to replace starter Jason Missiaen. Albany would outshoot the Whale 14-4 in the first. After no goals across in the second period, the third period was, shall we say, action packed? Corbin McPherson scored his first goal as a professional 9 minutes in for a 3-0 Devil lead. Well, we know what they say about 3 goal leads. And it almost came true on this night. 20 seconds after McPherson’s goal, Kris Newbury would break up Keith Kinkaid’s shutout bid to make it 3-1. Four minutes later, Mike Vernace would cut the deficit to 1. Kelsey Tessier would complete the rally less than 3 minutes later on a shorthanded goal, making it 3 all. It was on to overtime, where maybe, just maybe, the 10th time would be the charm for the Devils, as they had yet to win after regulation (1 OTL and 8 SOL). After both teams exchanged one shot without success, it was on to a shootout, the Devils’ 9th chance at redemption. After Mike Sislo and Brandon Mashinter were stopped in the first round, Chad Wiseman and Matt Anderson both scored in back to back rounds. Kinkaid stopped former teammate Nick Palmieri (making his Whale debut after being acquired from Minnesota), Newbury, and Brandon Segal to secure the Devils first overtime win of the season (FINALLY! Sorry had to let that out). Despite a shaky third period, not a bad day for Kinkaid, as he stopped 20 of 23 shots prior to stopping all 4 shootout attempts. Anderson and Brandon Burlon each had two assists. And of course, what’s a Devil-Ranger matchup without this?
After a bonus day off Friday due to the snowstorm known as Nemo, the Devils were back to work Saturday, traveling west on the Thruway for their first visit of the season to Syracuse to take on the Crunch. Nothing across during the first period, then Vladimir Namestnikov got the hosts on the board just 99 seconds into the second for a 1-0 lead. Tyler Johnson added his 21st goal of the season late in the period for a 2-0 advantage. At this point, one would think this game was pretty much over with–the Devils had yet to win when trailing after 2 periods, the Crunch had yet to lose when leading after 2. Well, it’s a good thing they don’t play these games on paper. Joe Whitney would break up Dustin Tokarski’s shutout 4 minutes into the third to cut the deficit to 2-1. Then while on a power play, Scott Parse scored his first as a Devil to tie the game at 2. Less than 2 minutes later, Matt Anderson would give the Devils their first lead of the night, 3-2. And to top off the rally, Tim Sestito scored with just over 2 minutes left for an insurance goal. That actually turned into the game winner, as Johnson would add his second of the game with 22 seconds left to get the 4-3 final. It took Albany a total of 7:58 to erase a 2-0 deficit, an almost identical rally to one the Devils mounted last year in Norfolk, against the same group of players. All this despite being outshot by the Crunch 12-8 for the period. Keith Kinkaid won his second straight in net, stopping 27 of 30 Crunch shots. Anderson also added two assists, while 5 other Devils each had one helper.
The road trip came to an end Sunday afternoon in the Southern Tier of New York, as the Devils took on the Senators. No goals across in the first period, but the Devils did manage to kill off 3 power plays during the period (yesterday’s referee tandem was quite whistle happy on this day), but were outshot 12-8. Things started picking up in the second…Corey Cowick put the hosts on the board just 1:42 into the period for a 1-0 advantage. Jeff Frazee came up big after that, making quite a few acrobatic saves to keep it at a one goal game. Hugh Jessiman connected on a penalty shot just one minute into the third period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead. But just like the night before in Syracuse, the Devils started to rally. Matt Anderson broke up the shutout on a nice breakaway four minutes later to cut the lead to 2-1. Five minutes later Phil DeSimone would get the equalizer. After a few very close calls late in regulation and into overtime, it was on to the shootout, #10 for the Devils on the season. Mike Sislo and Chad Wiseman would score in the first two rounds, then Binghamton’s Dustin Gazley and Jessiman would score in the 4th and 5th rounds to extend the shootout to extra rounds. And it didn’t take long to settle: Joe Whitney scored in the 6th round, and Frazee would stop Chris Wideman to snag the extra point and finish off a perfect week. Frazee had an outstanding day in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots, getting the lone assist on Anderson’s goal, and earning #2 star honors. Tim Sestito and Eric Gelinas each assisted on DeSimone’s goal.
-It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for Matt Anderson. He gets his own bobblehead, then gets the call to New Jersey where he gets his first NHL assist in a 2 game stint before returning to Albany, then in the last three games he puts up 7 points (3 G, 4 A). For his performance this week, he earns the AHL Player of the Week, the second Devil to earn the honor (Bobby Butler the first back in mid December).
-Andrei Loktionov made his Devil debut Saturday night in Syracuse, finishing with no shots and a -1. He took part in the shootout in Binghamton on Sunday afternoon. First impression? One word: Fast. The other Russian to join the team, Stefan Stepanov, has yet to make his Devil debut.
The Week Ahead:
The Devils finally return to home ice for the first time since January 26th, with a Wednesday night matchup against the Crunch. Friday it’s back up north to Glens Falls, where they have a chance to clinch the Time Warner Cable Cup with a win over the Phantoms. After a rare Saturday off, it’s back to work Sunday afternoon at home against the Senators.