Second Half Roller Coaster

The second half has begun…and well, it’s off to a weird start. The Devils earned 4 out of 8 points on the week, and their play was all over the place, starting out great, then sinking, then back up to great again. Now to look back on the week that was:

1/16 vs. Adirondack: 5-3 W

The Devils started the week off with a Monday afternoon tilt against their neighbors to the north, the Phantoms. And for the first time in quite awhile, they were quick out of the gate in the first period. On their first power play opportunity, Nathan Perkovich scored his third goal in 2 games for the early lead. Matt Anderson added a short handed goal with just under 5 minutes left in the period for a two goal cushion, which came despite Adirondack outshooting the Devils 12-8. Second period the Devils turned the offense up. Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito scored 54 seconds apart for a 4-0 Devil lead, chasing Phantom goalie Michael Leighton. They then greeted his backup Jason Bacashihua 1:15 later with a Brad Mills tally for a commanding 5-0 lead. However, Adirondack then started to chip away at the lead. Jason Akeson broke up Jeff Frazee’s shutout with about 8 minutes left in the period to make it 5-1. In the third, Adirondack continued its rally, first on a power play goal by Garrett Roe, then Eric Wellwood added a shorthanded goal to make it a 5-3 game. But that’s all the Phantoms would do, as Frazee shut them down the rest of the way and the Devils held on for the win and a 2-2 tie in the Sestito…sorry, Time Warner Cable Cup series. Frazee had another solid outing in between the pipes, stopping 32 of 35 shots and earning #1 star of the game honors.

1/18 vs. Norfolk: 5-4 L

The Devils wrapped up the homestand with a visit from the Admirals, a team they were a perfect 4-0 against coming in. First period, it was the Stephane Veilleux Show. He kicked off the Devils scoring against Dustin Tokarski just under 6 minutes into the period. After Matt Fornataro scored on a power play with 6 minutes left, Veilleux answered with two more goals in a 2:15 span for his first AHL hat trick in 9 years and gave the Devils a 3-1 lead. For the second straight game, no sluggish start, as the Devils outshot the Admirals 13-10. Second period, which is normally when the Devils get into the game, was just the opposite on this night. Evan Oberg and Mark Barberio scored 48 seconds apart to tie the game at 3. But Chad Wiseman gave the Devils the one goal lead back with 6 and a half minutes to go. But Norfolk struck again less than 3 minutes later, as Michel Ouellet and former River Rat Mike Angelidis scored 26 seconds apart to give the Admirals the 5-4 advantage. Despite the Devils best efforts in the third period, including a few close calls on Tokarski at the end, Norfolk held on for the 5-4 win, their first against the Devils in 5 tries this season. Kinkaid stopped 21 of 26 shots in the loss, while Joe Whitney added two assists.

1/20 at Adirondack: 3-2 L

Hoping for a rebound, the Devils traveled north for Game 5 against Adirondack. Well…not quite, although things started off on the right foot…or should I say skate. Despite being outshot 13-6, it was Albany that escaped the first with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a late goal by the birthday boy, Mike Sislo (he celebrated his 24th for those who wondered). Second period, the Phantoms took over the game and never looked back. They scored 3 times on goaltender Jeff Frazee (all even strength) and outshot the Devils by a 20-9 clip to take a 3-1 lead after two periods. Third period the Devils started to wake up, but it was just too little and too late. Chad Wiseman scored on a very late power play (thanks to a rematch by the penalty boxes between Darcy Zajac and Ben Holmstrom…Holmstrom also received an instigator and a misconduct) to bring the Devils within 3-2, but no more. Frazee stopped 33 of 36 saves in the loss…the guy just didn’t have the defensive support on this night.

1/21 at Springfield: 5-2 W

The Devils finished off the week with a quick trip east down the Mass Pike to take on the Falcons. The big story was the return of Mattias Tedenby to the lineup after being reassigned by New Jersey earlier in the day. And he made an immediate impact on the offense. Placed on a line early with Tim Sestito and Joe Whitney, the trio produced two goals in the first 5:26 of the game, both scored by Whitney (one a power play tally) for a 2-0 lead. The goal barrage continued later in the period as Kory Nagy scored his first of the season to make it 3-0. Then for the second time this week, a Devil registered a hat trick (after no one had scored one since last March), as Whitney notched his third with less than 3 minutes remaining in the first for a commanding 4-0 Devil advantage. All of this came on just 9 shots on goal, while Springfield could only muster 5 on Keith Kinkaid. That prompted the Falcons to make a goalie switch to start the second, as Manny Legace replaced Mark Dekanich. No scoring in the second period, probably because everyone was too busy parading in and out of the penalty box (referee Jarrod Ragusin got a little whistle happy this game, handing out a combined 16 power play chances). In the third the Falcons tried to make it a game, as rookie Cam Atkinson and vet Alexandre Giroux notched power play goals to get within 4-2. But Nagy would score his second of the night with less than 3 minutes on the clock to put the game out of reach. After a rough outing on Wednesday at home, Kinkaid rebounded nicely in this one, stopping 28 of 30 shots, including a few brilliant stops to keep his shutout (at the time) bid going. Tedenby notched 2 assists in his season debut, as did Sestito.

Notes:

I pretty much covered roster moves yesterday after Joe Sova was dealt to Carolina and Tedenby was sent down, so here’s the injury report:

-Jay Leach, Matt Corrente, and Steve Bernier are still out. Corrente is the closest to return, back skating, but no timetable on when he’ll actually be back. Matt Anderson has been out since Monday with an undisclosed ailment (one report said he was excused from Monday’s team autograph session due to illness), not sure on his status. And Myles Stoesz has yet to play despite being recalled on Wednesday (all healthy scratches), so who knows what his situation is.

Looking Ahead:

A much quieter week ahead heading into the All Star Break, only two games on tap. Friday the Devils head to Binghamton to face the Senators, hoping for a better outcome than the last visit (a 8-3 thrashing the day after Christmas). Then Saturday afternoon it’s Time Warner Cable Cup Game #6 against Adirondack (not Sestito Cup for the moment as Tom has been recalled to the Flyers) at home. It could make for a very good atmosphere, as it’s Martin Brodeur Bobblehead day and the Devils are offering a Dunkin Donuts 4 pack deal. With another three way tie for second place, every game is becoming more important by the day.

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