Three games into the season, and it looks like the Devils might be about to turn the corner. After the same problems in a Friday night loss, the team rebounded quite nicely the following night on the road and finally broke into the win column. Time to rewind the weekend:
The weekend slate began with the first of 8 matchups against the new look Crunch. Things looked up very early in, as Mike Hoeffel scored his first of the season just 58 seconds in for a quick 1-0 lead. But then the special teams problems started up yet again, as on the first penalty kill of the game Tyler Johnson scored to tie things up at 1. But the home team finished the period strong as Mattias Tedenby scored his first on a beautiful play with Tim Sestito to regain the lead. Second period we were reminded on just what a Tampa Bay farm team can do, whether it’s in a Norfolk uniform or a Syracuse one. The second penalty kill yielded the same result, just 13 seconds in J.T. Brown tied the game at 2 apiece. Then six minutes later former River Rat and now Captain Crunch Mike Angelidis gave Syracuse a 3-2 lead (and to add insult he took on Darcy Zajac after a faceoff 3 minutes later and got the decision). Third period the Devils tried to tie things up, but nothing was getting past Crunch goaltender Dustin Tokarski, as he stopped all 11 shots. But special teams showed a little improvement, going a perfect 2 for 2 on the penalty kill after the 2nd Crunch goal. The power play, another story: 0 for 5. Despite the loss, Jeff Frazee did well in net, stopping 20 of 23 shots, while Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito each contributed an assist.
Saturday night the Devils took to the road for their first away contest of the season, making their only trip to central Massachusetts to face off against the Sharks, in their first home contest after three straight road losses to start the year. I’m not sure what happened overnight or on the bus, but suddenly there was a whole new Devils team that showed up to play. After killing off an early penalty, Adam Henrique finally broke through and scored his first of the season on a delayed penalty call for a 1-0 advantage. About six minutes later, the power play finally clicked and Harri Pesonen scored his first Devil goal to make it 2-0. Second period things got better, as the penalty kill went 4 for 4 and Jacob Josefson scored his first of the season for a 3-0 Devil lead. Then for good measure Josefson added a shorthanded goal early in the third for a commanding 4-0 Devil lead. Things got very chippy after that, where we saw Tim Sestito get crushed/held down by defenseman Nick Petrecki and Alexander Urbom get inexplicably sucker punched by Brandon Mashinter in the same sequence. Then after a Shark boarded Joe Whitney and captain Jay Leach went to intervene, Matt Pelech leaves the bench and the two exchanged punches. Lost in all this was Keith Kinkaid, who was absolutely brilliant in stopping all 30 Shark shots en route to his first shutout of the season…and more importantly the first win of the season. Adam Larsson contributed 2 assists, while Pesonen, Joe Whitney, Bobby Butler, Tim Sestito, and Matt Anderson each contributed 1 assist.
The Week Ahead:
After a relatively light first two weeks, business picks up with three games on tap this week. Wednesday night the Devils host Connecticut for the first of 6 matchups. Friday night the 4th installment of the Time Warner Cable Cup begins as they host Adirondack. Then Saturday it’s back on the bus as they head south to Hershey to take on the Bears. With two divisional rivals and a very tough opponent awaiting, this will be a good early test to see if what we saw in Worcester is real or just a lucky night.