A quick weekend in the books for the Devils as we have reached the AHL All Star Break. And it was a very, shall we say, up and down two games, as is the norm with this team in recent weeks. Let’s rewind:
1/27 at Binghamton: 3-2 L
The week started off with a trip to the Southern Tier against the B-Sens. First period was virtually all Devils, as Matt Taormina (on a PP) and Stephane Veilleux scored 28 seconds apart midway through the first on former Devil goalie Mike McKenna. Jeff Frazee barely had to break a sweat, only facing 3 Binghamton shots and stopping all three. First half of the second period started out well for the Devils…but second half was all B-Sens. Andre Petersson scored back to back power play goals just 1:54 apart to quickly tie the game at 2. Then a scary moment for Albany…Nick Palmieri left the game after getting hit in the head with a teammate’s shot. First person to check on him? McKenna. Very nice gesture from a former teammate. Third period the Sens completed the comeback while shorthanded…Jim O’Brien scored on a nice breakaway with just over 12 minutes left in the period for a 3-2 lead. McKenna turned in a very good performance, stopping 38 of 40 Albany shots and earning #3 star honors. Taormina posted a goal and an assist in his first game back since being sent down by New Jersey for the NHL All Star break.
1/28 vs. Adirondack: 3-0 W
For the third time in 12 days, the Devils faced off against their neighbors to the north, the Phantoms. The game started out as a goaltending duel between Keith Kinkaid and Jason Bacashihua. Jacob Josefson thought he had a goal just 24 seconds into the game, but referee Chris Brown waved it off. Typical Chris Brown. That was about as close as anyone got to scoring during the period, with Adirondack outshooting its hosts 7-5. Second period, let the fun begin. Tim Sestito (with big little bro Tom on the ice at the same time) put the Devils up 1-0 6 minutes into the second. At the end of the second, a near line brawl erupted in the corner right by where I was sitting. No real fights broke out, just the usual pushing, shoving, grabbing an opponent’s jersey. Third period, more pushing, shoving, chirping, everything that makes this rivalry so much fun. With just under 5 minutes remaining, Peter Harrold snagged an insurance goal against Bacashihua for a 2-0 lead. Jacob Josefson added an empty netter with 13 seconds to go to seal it. Kinkaid was impressive in net, earning his third shutout of the season. He stopped all 30 Phantom shots and earned #1 star honors…and had an assist on Sestito’s goal to boot. But the real story of the day? The attendance. An all time Devil mark was set today…8,194 were on hand. That’s the most for an AHL game in Albany in almost 12 years and nearly triple the average attendance from this year.
I covered the transactions earlier this week, now for an injury update:
-Steve Bernier did return to the lineup last night in Binghamton, after missing the last 7 weeks with a hand injury. Matt Corrente is probably the next one to return, he has been skating in practice. Matt Anderson, Nathan Perkovich, and J.S. Berube are all out with the ever popular upper body injury. Jay Leach is still out long term.
After the All Star Weekend Sunday and Monday, the Devils start a 5 game road swing, with two games at the end of the week. It begins Friday night in Hartford against the Whale, then Saturday they travel to Wilkes-Barre (as will I for my annual NEPA overnight roadie) to face the Penguins. With just three points now separating all 5 teams in the division, they need to stay consistent. The team could easily be in first place–or in fifth–depending on what group decides to show up.