The semi annual Norfolk swing. The one weekend trip that used to make me nervous even going back to the River Rats days. Usually a Albany team would go down there and it would not be a pretty sight. That was not the case this weekend as the Devils made the first of 2 2-day visits to the Scope in Norfolk to take on the Admirals. It took a miracle and righting the ship, but the Devils got all 4 points and jumped back over the Phantoms into 2nd place in the division. Time to rewind:
1/6 Game 1: 5-4 W (OT)
Jeff Frazee was back between the pipes in his first appearance since getting hurt December 19th in Wilkes-Barre. Much like last week, the Devils came out flat and dug themselves into a hole in the first period. All-Star Mark Barberio and Carter Ashton scored for a 2-0 advantage, despite the Devils outshooting Norfolk 13-12. Second period, more of the same…Trevor Smith (on a power play) and recently demoted Evan Oberg padded the Norfolk lead to 4. At this point I’m thinking, this game is pretty much in the books, same problems as last week, put in Kinkaid, etc. But something must have happened during second intermission to awaken the team…and what happened next was something, shall we say, epic? It started out normally enough…Nick Palmieri broke up Dustin Tokarski’s shutout about 8 minutes in to make it 4-1. Okay, no big thing there. Then Mike Hoeffel and Matt Anderson scored 53 seconds apart about 2 minutes later to make it 4-3. Now we have a game. It stayed 4-3 till less than a minute left, with Frazee pulled for an extra attacker, Eric Gelinas puts one past Tokarski with 25.7 seconds left to complete the comeback and tie it up at 4. On to overtime, where thanks to a Trevor Smith tripping call, the epic comeback was completed. Joe Whitney scored the winning goal with a minute and a half to go in the extra frame to give the Devils an improbable win, 5-4. Frazee settled down nicely after the first two, stopping 28 of 32 shots (9 for 9 in the 3rd and in overtime). Once again the Devils outshot the opponent, in this case 39-32.
1/7 Game 2: 3-1 W
A couple of lineup changes before the second game…Nick Palmieri was recalled to New Jersey after Anton Volchenkov was placed on IR. And a goalie switch on both sides, Keith Kinkaid vs. Jaroslav Janus. Things got off to an auspicious beginning when Stephane Veilleux was sent to the box before the puck even dropped, he was slashing rookie Cory Conacher as the teams lined up for the opening faceoff. That became the theme for the first period, as Norfolk was given 4 power plays during the first period, all successfully killed off by the Devils. But unlike the last few games, the Devils actually got out of the first period with a lead, as Eric Gelinas scored for the second straight night with less than 3 minutes to go in the period. Second period started out quite interesting…it was Cory Conacher’s turn to take a slashing call just 5 seconds into the period. And who ended up capitalizing with a power play goal as a result? Stephane Veilleux. Call it karma, call it fate…or just call it a 2-0 Devil advantage. J.S. Berube, in his second game since being recalled from Trenton, scored his first of the year with just over 9 minutes left for a 3-0 cushion after 2 periods. After the heroics of the night before (and Josh our radio broadcaster was thinking the same thing over the air), no one would outright say the game was over yet. Richard Panik did score on the power play about 8 minutes into the third to break up Kinkaid’s shutout bid, but that’s all. After a rough week last week, Kinkaid went back to what made him Player of the Week before the Christmas break. He stopped 28 of 29 shots, including a few that would have been trouble for sure.
I pretty much covered all the roster movement earlier this week with the All Star post and noted earlier about Nick Palmieri’s recall yesterday, so let’s move on to the injury front:
Jay Leach and Matt Corrente remain out, timetable for return is unknown. Nathan Perkovich returned to the lineup on Friday after sitting out about a week. Chad Wiseman did not make the trip (lower body), and Steve Bernier is still out with a hand injury.
A very quiet week ahead…only one game on the schedule, a Saturday night home game against Syracuse. And it may be a good crowd on hand, it’s the annual GE Kids in Free Night. The boys better rest up this week, because it’s a busy schedule the following week with 4 games. Now that it’s close to the halfway point and the All Star break, it’s time to build on this weekend and keep it going.
(and by the way…if you can figure out where I came up with the title…bonus points for you!)