After a very disappointing showing last week, the Devils were looking to finish the month of February not on a losing streak. And they proceeded to do just that, earning 4 out of 6 points and not losing any ground in the race for the last few Eastern Conference playoff spots. Time to review:
The Devils had a quick turnaround after losing to Binghamton in a shootout the afternoon before…and their week wasn’t starting easy, as they had to face the Crunch, a team that gave them their most lopsided loss of the season just 5 days earlier. Dana Tyrell and Tyler Johnson scored 34 seconds apart halfway through the first for a quick 2-0 lead…here we go again, right? Not so fast. Mike Sislo would put Albany on the board with a power play goal after newly acquired Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins (making his first start since coming over from Hamilton) was outright robbing the Devils on a couple of beautiful saves. Second period saw nothing across, as far as goals or even penalties…probably the most uneventful period of the season (the Devils did outshoot Syracuse 6-5). But in the third the Crunch would pull away, thanks to one player. Johnson would score his second of the day 4 minutes into the third for a 3-1 lead. But Steve Zalewski would answer 4 minutes later to pull the deficit back to one. But on a power play later in the period Johnson would complete the hat trick for a 4-2 advantage. But the Devils weren’t done just yet, as Jacob Josefson scored in his first game back since being sent down from New Jersey the day before to bring the game to within 4-3. At that point there was just 1:32 left in regulation for the Devils to get that tying goal. But a mad scramble in front of the Crunch net came up empty, and Brett Connolly would get an empty netter with 3 seconds left to seal the Crunch win and the Devils 4th loss in a row. Much better showing out of Keith Kinkaid this time around against Syracuse–he stopped 20 of 24 shots–but still not enough for a win. Alexander Urbom added two assists.
To start the weekend slate, it was back to Binghamton for the second time in 13 days to face the Senators. Once again, the penalty kill had some struggles, as Binghamton scored on its first two power plays. Mark Borowiecki would start the scoring 5 minutes in just 1 minute into the first kill for a 1-0 lead. Joe Whitney would answer with a goal of his own 53 seconds later to tie the game. But the Sens would take the lead back on a Jean-Gabriel Pageau power play tally 6 minutes later. Second period saw Shane Prince give the Sens a 3-1 lead just 1:12 in. But then the Devils would come out flying, outshooting Binghamton 21-12 and rallying to take the lead. Steve Zalewski would cut the deficit to 1. Then less than 5 minutes later Mike Sislo would tie the game at 3. To finish the period off, Whitney scored his second of the night to put the Devils ahead 4-3. Phil DeSimone would add an insurance goal halfway through the third period to make it a 5-3 game. Finally a good night in goal for Jeff Frazee, as he stopped 36 of 39 shots to pick up just his 5th win of the season. Matt Anderson added two assists, while Harri Pesonen and Raman Hrabarenka each added a helper.
While myself and a good chunk of the season ticket holder base were at the Rock (more on that to come), the other Devils made their final visit of the season to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall to take on the Bears for the first time since the end of December. Mike Hoeffel scored his third halfway through the first period, then Joe Whitney would add his 15th less than 3 minutes later for a 2-0 Albany lead. Mike Sislo would add his fifth goal just 9 seconds into the second for a 3-0 advantage…then the Bears started to rally. Ryan Potulny and Casey Wellman scored 6 minutes apart to cut the Devil lead to 3-2. But Whitney would score his second of the game on a power play with just over a minute to go in the second to put the Devils back up 4-2. Sislo added his second of the game 3 and a half minutes into the third for a 5-2 lead. But again Hershey would respond, as Wellman scored his second of the game exactly 1 minute later to make it 5-3. Ryan Stoa added a power play goal less than 3 minutes later to cut the deficit to 1. But Matt Anderson would snag a much needed insurance goal with just under 7 minutes remaining to seal the Devil win. The 6 goal outburst tied their highest of the season (6 goals were also scored on December 12th, 4 by Bobby Butler). Keith Kinkaid earned the win and stopped 22 of 26 Bear shots. Phil DeSimone added 3 assists, while Anderson and Steve Zalewski each had two helpers. And a very good day for the defense…Dan Kelly and Eric Gelinas each finished a +4.
And now for the newest feature of the weekly recap, The Obligatory Cam Janssen Fight of the Week:
-Good news on Mattias Tedenby: he was finally released from Glens Falls Hospital on Saturday. He is expected to go back to New Jersey after a few days of rest here to be evaluated further. No timetable has been given on when he could return to the lineup. The only other injuries of note are Jay Leach and Scott Parse (both lower body), no updates on when either will return.
-This week on the Albany/New Jersey/Trenton shuttle: On Thursday, Kelly Zajac, J.S. Berube, and Harry Young were all reassigned to Trenton, presumably to get in some playing time with the two game road swing. On Sunday Jacob Josefson was recalled to New Jersey after Ryan Carter was placed on IR. Young was recalled from Trenton (and of course he didn’t play). Then earlier today Zajac and Berube were recalled from Trenton and Josefson returned to Albany after playing in Sunday’s game against Winnipeg. Got all that?
We have reached the month of March…and it’s going to be a very busy month, with 3-in-3 weekends all month long. The month begins Friday night with a visit to Syracuse to face the Crunch for the third time in 18 days. Saturday it’s south down Interstate 81 to Wilkes-Barre to take on the Penguins. Then it’s a quick turnaround for a Sunday afternoon matchup up north against Adirondack.