After taking a few days to celebrate Christmas, the Devils were right back to work, playing a 3 in 3 swing against 3 tough opponents. And they rose to the challenge, taking 4 out of 6 points…and it could easily have been 6 for 6 if not for a questionable call or two. Let’s recap:
A four game road trip that kicked off before Christmas came to an end Thursday night in Springfield, as the Devils faced the first place Falcons for the first time all season. Harri Pesonen got the visitors on the board first with just 52 seconds left in the first period. Stephen Gionta scored his first goal since his return halfway through the second period for a 2 goal cushion. Ryan Johansen put the Falcons on the board with four and a half minutes left in the period to cut the deficit in half, but Joe Whitney scored 31 seconds later to regain the 2 goal lead for Albany. Steve Zalewski made it a 3 goal lead early in the third with a power play marker (gasp! Another one!), then the Falcons started to rally. They made it interesting late, as Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson scored 1:29 apart to cut the deficit to one. But the Devils shut the door and held on for the win. Keith Kinkaid stopped 28 of 31 shots to pick up the win and Adam Larsson contributed two assists.
The Devils returned home Friday night for their last home game of the calendar year, the first of 8 matchups of the season against Binghamton. First period was virtually all Devils, as they outshot the Senators 13-2. But the story of the period was a major penalty by Binghamton’s David Dziurzynski, who sent Joe Whitney into the boards with a hit from behind, knocking Whitney out of the game with a leg injury. During the ensuing 5 on 3 (Eric Gryba had taken a minor 26 seconds before the hit), Bobby Butler scored on his former team for a 1-0 lead. Second period saw the Senators come back, actually playing even with the Devils (shots all even at 12), but it was a questionable call at the very end of the period that changed the course of the game. Just as the clock struck zero to end the period and the horn was sounding, Cole Schneider slid the puck past Jeff Frazee. We all figured it would be called off due to the puck going in after time had expired. But the referee tandem of Jeff Smith and Jon McIsaac (I couldn’t see from my angle which one made the call) called it a good goal, tying the game at 1. And put a second back on the clock to boot. Third period it was Schneider coming through again, scoring just 1:29 into the period for a 2-1 Binghamton lead. Much like with Emerson Etem last Saturday night in Norfolk, it took 91 seconds for one player to turn a 1-0 game into a 2-1 deficit. But the Devils–namely Butler–weren’t done just yet. He notched his second power play goal of the night with just over 6 minutes remaining to tie the game at 2. But with 2:35 left in regulation, rookie Jakob Silfverberg scored the go ahead goal. Despite a last minute rush to the net, it was not to be for the Devils. All this despite grossly outshooting Binghamton 37-17, including 12-3 in the third period alone. Another hard luck defeat for Frazee, as he stopped 14 of 17 shots.
The Devils closed out the 2012 portion of their schedule with a trip south to Hershey to take on the Bears. Despite outshooting the Bears 12-10 in the first, the Devils faced a 1-0 deficit on a Jon DiSalvatore goal. Tim Sestito tied the game at 1 with under 8 minutes to go in the second. Third period, the line of Bobby Butler, Harri Pesonen and Jacob Josefson took over. Butler scored his team leading 14th goal just under 3 minutes into the third to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. Not to be outdone, Zach Hamill scored 45 seconds later to re tie the game at 2. But with just over 8 minutes to go in regulation, Pesonen scored to put the Devils back on top. The rest was taken care of by Keith Kinkaid, who stopped 14 of 15 Bears shots in the third, including a few good chances late, to hold on for a rare Albany win at the Giant Center. Kinkaid finished with 34 saves and #3 star honors. Josefson contributed both assists in the third, while Eric Gelinas and Mike Hoeffel (yes he was freed on this night) also had one assist each.
-Forward Phil DeSimone, fresh off ECHL Player of the Week honors after a one week stay in Trenton, was recalled on Sunday. He actually did manage to crack the lineup this week, appearing in Friday’s game against Binghamton, registering one shot on goal.
-No update on the status of Joe Whitney after leaving Friday’s game with an apparent leg/ankle injury. He did sit out Saturday in Hershey. And apparently the flu bug has hit the team, as Dan Kelly and David Wohlberg sat out all week due to illness. J.S. Berube has finally rejoined the team, no word on when he may be back. And Adam Henrique should start rehab shortly on his injured thumb.
The Week Ahead:
After ringing in 2013, the Devils have a short week ahead with just two weekend home games, both rematches from the weekend. Saturday afternoon they host Springfield, followed by the first Sunday afternoon “real” home game of the season (the first was in Atlantic City in November) against the Senators.
Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!