Another 3 in 3 weekend in the books for the Devils. And it wasn’t an exactly pretty weekend, as the team only notched 1 out of a possible 6 points, and almost lost a playoff position in the process. Time to take a look back:
3/9 at Syracuse: 2-1 L (SO)
The weekend began with the first of two trips to Syracuse to take on the Crunch, a rematch from Sunday afternoon’s one goal defeat. It was a good matchup of rookie goaltenders, Keith Kinkaid for Albany and Iiro Tarkki for Syracuse. The Crunch dominated play during the first period, but Kinkaid was up to the challenge, stopping all 11 Syracuse shots while Albany could only muster 3 on Tarkki. Peter Holland broke the scoreless tie halfway through the second period with a shot just over Kinkaid’s shoulder and in. The Devils started to wake up during the second, but could not get any offense going against Tarkki, who stopped all 15 shots in the second. It appeared that Tarkki would win a 1-0 goaltending duel (much like the one he and Jeff Frazee had back in November with Frazee winning that one, also 1-0), but with Kinkaid pulled for an extra attacker, Steve Zalewski finally got one past Tarkki to tie the game with just 35.7 seconds left. Nothing else across after that or into overtime, despite the Crunch having a late 4 on 3 opportunity. In the shootout, Mattias Tedenby and Matt Anderson (in his first game action since mid January) connected, but Kinkaid only managed to stop 1 out of 4 Crunch chances to give Syracuse the shootout win. Other than that, Kinkaid played extremely well, stopping 37 of 38 Crunch shots during regulation and OT.
3/10 at Adirondack: 4-3 L
Saturday it was back up north to Glens Falls for the latest Time Warner Cable Cup installment. And the Devils got things started in a hurry. Matt Anderson put the visitors on the board just 1:52 in for a quick 1-0 lead. But the Phantoms then took over, quickly taking the lead in a 1:27 span (the second goal on a power play) five minutes later. Later in the period the chippiness started…oh by the way it’s Faith and Family Night at the Civic Center. Second period came more Phantom goals and more chippiness. But there was also a penalty shot awarded to Matt Corrente, who could not get it past Adirondack goalie Michael Leighton. Shane Harper and Oliver Lauridsen added goals 27 seconds apart later in the second to pad the lead to 4-1, before another line brawl to end the period (did I mention it’s Faith and Family Night? No?). Third period the Devils started to rally, but it started a little too late. Nathan Perkovich cut the deficit to 2 with 4 and a half minutes remaining. Then with Jeff Frazee pulled, Steve Zalewski got the Devils to within 1, but there was only 15 seconds left in regulation, and the tying goal never came. Frazee managed to stop 28 of 32 Phantom shots in a losing cause.
3/11 at Syracuse: 4-1 L
Less than 24 hours later, it was back down the Thruway to Syracuse for the third matchup in 7 days against Syracuse. It was a rematch of Friday night’s goalies, Keith Kinkaid and Iiro Tarkki, but the result was anything but a goaltending duel. Mathieu Carle and Luca Caputi scored 35 seconds apart for a quick 2-0 Crunch lead (so quick the Crunch peanut gallery had to wait to tell Kinkaid he sucked…poor kid, he thought RPI was bad enough). Then the Devils started letting out some frustrations (of course a Sestito is in the middle of it all…someone had to step in with Tom out why not the big little bro?), but in the first fight they managed to escape with a power play chance. Peter Harrold capitalized on that chance and scored to cut the lead to 2-1. Then the fun continued with a near full on wrestling match at center ice (it was almost like the old River Rat-Crunch days all over again), and a later slashing minor to another Devil gave the Crunch a 5 on 3 advantage. Syracuse took advantage and made it a 3-1 lead after one period. Second period was all Crunch despite Albany outshooting them 13-10. Nick Schaus and Dan Sexton both scored on Kinkaid to make it a 5-1 lead. No scoring during the third, but one more fight for good measure (Nathan Perkovich took on John Kurtz) to end a frustrating weekend. Kinkaid stopped 32 of 37 shots in the loss.
No transactions this week (probably will be few and far between with the Clear Day rosters in effect; still on the ATO watch), but two Devils came back from injury on Friday night: as mentioned earlier, Matt Anderson returned after sitting out since mid January, along with Tim Sestito, who had been out since late February. Jay Leach, Chad Wiseman, Alexander Urbom, Myles Stoesz, and Mike Banwell remain out.
The schedule is not getting any easier for the Devils this week, as yet another 3 in 3 weekend looms. Friday night it’s one last visit to Binghamton to play the Senators (a building the Devils have yet to record a win in this season). Saturday night they travel down Interstate 81 to take on Hershey for the first time since November. The two teams then rematch in Albany on Sunday afternoon. And on Tuesday night is the annual Booster Club Awards Banquet, I will likely have the list of winners up after the dinner or sometime on Wednesday. Points will be at a premium this weekend, as the Devils now sit in 8th in the conference, just one point ahead of both Worcester and Adirondack. And with only 15 games left in the regular season (it ends one month from Thursday already), it’s getting late already.