It’s Sunday, and that means another weekly recap! 3 home games this week for the Devils, against 2 first place teams and the defending league champs. Sounded daunting, but the guys came together and snagged 5 out of a possible 6 points to start off the month of November. Time to rewind and look back at the week’s events:
11/2 vs. Binghamton: 3-2 W
For the 3rd time already this season, the Devils and Senators faced off, the second time in Albany. The main players involved from Friday night’s events were not present, either suspended (Tim Sestito…more on that later) or recalled (both Robin Lehner and Nikita Filatov were called up to Ottawa just after that game). Keith Kinkaid returned from his one week stint as New Jersey doorman and went right back on the ice…up against the man he basically replaced on the Devils goalie depth chart, Mike McKenna. Binghamton captain Mark Parrish started off the scoring early on in the first on the power play, but the Devils quickly tied it up with a power play goal of their own courtesy of Joe Whitney. Mark Borowiecki’s first pro goal gave the Sens the lead back midway through the second, then newly acquired Steve Bernier snagged Albany’s first shorthanded goal of the season (and his first as a Devil) to retie it at 2 late in the period. Captain Stephen Gionta scored his first of the year early in the third to break the 2-2 tie, and the goal stood up as the game winner. Kinkaid took it from there, stopping all 10 Binghamton 3rd period shots (31 saves overall), and went just wide right on an attempted scoring chance late in the third with an empty net. No extra curricular carryover from Friday night at all (since none of the major players were in the game), just a quick bout between Matt Corrente and David Dziurzynski in the second.
11/4 vs. Norfolk: 1-0 W
I had a feeling we would be in for a very quick evening when I saw pregame that Jeff Smith was reffing this one. For those that don’t know his history, he is probably the only AHL referee that doesn’t call anything on either side. He hardly ever interrupts the flow of play…basically I am calling him the anti-Koharski. Keith Kinkaid got his second straight start…and Wednesday’s performance was just a warmup to Friday’s performance, one of the best I’ve seen out of any Albany goalie (Devil or River Rat) in quite some time. He and Norfolk’s starter Dustin Tokarski put on a splendid goaltenders’ duel, stopping everything in their path. Smith was true to form, only calling one penalty all evening…a high stick on Norfolk’s Dana Tyrell early in the second period. Finally in the third Matt Taormina solved Tokarski and got one past him five minutes into the period. Kinkaid made the lone goal stand up, stopping all 34 Admiral shots (including a flurry of shots during the last minute of the game with Norfolk’s net empty) in getting his first professional shutout and #1 star honors.
11/5 vs. Connecticut: 3-2 L (SO)
A little more activity in this one compared to the night before. The Whale got things started right away against Jeff Frazee (who we were a little surprised to see out there after the strong week Kinkaid was having), scoring on an early power play opportunity (goal by rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault…he’s so small I’m surprised his name fit on his jersey). Things got very chippy during the period…I noticed Myles Stoesz (who was actually getting in some game action with Nathan Perkovich and J.S. Berube out of the lineup) trying to goad a Whale player into a fight, but he wasn’t a willing dance partner. Shortly after that, Stu Bickel and Matt Corrente had a spirited bout by the penalty boxes…the refs broke it up before either combatant could get the pin. Second period things got physical again, this time by the benches…resulting in Dan Kelly (actually getting in the lineup but as a forward again) fighting Jordan Owens to the ice, getting him (and Kory Nagy on a separate incident) 10 minute misconducts. After peace was restored, the Devils tied it up at 1 on a fluke bounce from the boards. Mike Sislo banged it into an empty net, Whale goalie Cam Talbot didn’t play the bounce too well and it cost him. Carl Hagelin broke the tie with under 7 minutes left in the period. Third period…more fisticuffs. After Kris Newbury high sticked Joe Whitney, he had to answer to Darcy Zajac with a battle along the boards (one flying elbow pad over the glass later, Newbury scored the decision), but got stuck with an extra 2 minutes. And the Devils capitalized on the power play opportunity as Joe Whitney tied it up at 2. Nothing went across for the rest of the period or into overtime (Mats Zuccarello came very close to ending it, but the post wasn’t having it). In the ensuing shootout, Zuccarello and Brendan Bell scored on Frazee and Matt Anderson was the lone Devil to score, giving the Whale the victory.
-Keith Kinkaid was officially sent back down on Monday with Martin Brodeur returning from his shoulder injury. Maxime Clermont is still on the roster for now, just incase there’s a setback (ironically Johan Hedberg nearly had an injury this week…but as of now all is ok up top).
-On Tuesday, the AHL announced that Tim Sestito was suspended for 5 games for his hit on Nikita Filatov in Binghamton last Friday night. He has only one game left to serve, then he will be eligible to come back on Saturday.
-Chad Wiseman returned to the lineup this week, leaving only Mike Hoeffel and Stephane Veilleux on the injured scratch list. Nathan Perkovich sat out Saturday’s game, but still working on finding out why. And then there’s Brandon Burlon, still a healthy scratch. Let him play! But I will give him credit for trying to keep a good attitude and a smile throughout this ordeal (other players I’ve seen in the past here in his situation developed a horrible attitude about it…not good if you’re trying to get back in it).
Another 3 in 3 weekend coming up, 2 home games and a quick road trip out west. Friday night is a rematch with Norfolk, who is starting another road trip after finishing off a 6 game trip this weekend with one home game in between. Saturday the Devils hit the road for only the 4th time this season, visiting Syracuse for the first of 10 meetings with the Crunch. Then it’s back home Sunday afternoon for the only other Canadian team to visit Albany, Toronto.