(Or, the working title: Do I Have To Recap This?)
The Devils finished off the second half of a 6 game road swing still with hopes of getting out of 9th place and back in a playoff spot, one they held on to for all of 24 hours the weekend before. Five goals, two fights and zero wins later, they find themselves further down in the standings, and needing a lot of help if they even want to try to get back up to 8th place. Looking back (reluctantly) on the events of the weekend:
The road weekend began west on Interstate 88 Friday night against the Senators. Despite both teams finishing even in shots on goal during the first, it was Binghamton that lead 1-0 on a Shane Prince power play goal. The Senators would extend the lead to 3-0 early in the second as Cole Schneider and Mike Hoffman would score just 48 seconds apart. The Devils would stage a brief rally later in the second as Matt Anderson and David Wohlberg would score 1:08 apart to cut the deficit to 3-2. But Corey Cowick would score shorthanded 2 minutes later to give Binghamton a 4-2 advantage. The Devils would outshoot the Senators 11-5 in the third, but could not get the puck past Senators goaltender Nathan Lawson. Schneider would add an empty netter late to seal the victory and give the Devils their third straight loss. Keith Kinkaid stopped 23 of 27 shots in the loss, while 4 Devils each had an assist. And it was just the second appearance of the season for Harry Young, playing as a forward.
The trip continued north up Interstate 81 for the final matchup of the season against the Crunch, who had a very easy time the last time the two teams met just a week earlier. And the hosts picked up right where they left off, outshooting the Devils 13-5 and scoring twice against Jeff Frazee, making his first appearance since his return from New Jersey on Tuesday. Vladimir Namestnikov and Dan Sexton scored just 46 seconds apart for the 2-0 advantage. Second period was a little better, as the Devils killed off two consecutive power plays midway through the period, then killed a third later on. But the Crunch would take a 3-0 lead on a J.T. Brown goal. After that Frazee would settle down nicely, keeping the Crunch off the scoreboard. Third period the penalty kill would be tested yet again with another consecutive power play situation, but they came up big, actually killing off all 6 power play chances. But the offense could not muster anything on Crunch goaltender Riku Helenius…in fact, it took till 53 seconds left in the game for a goal, as Matt Anderson scored on a power play to cut the deficit to 3-1. But that was all they could muster, as the Devils dropped their fourth in a row. Yet another hard luck night for Frazee, as he stopped 33 of 36 shots and picking up his 10th loss. But on a brighter note…rookie defenseman Stefan Stepanov finally made his Albany debut after coming to the team in early February, on a defense pairing with Alexander Urbom and finishing a -1.
The road trip came to an end Sunday afternoon in Bridgeport, where just a week earlier Rick DiPietro pitched his first AHL shutout in over 10 years. And once again he was in net, facing Keith Kinkaid. The Sound Tigers dominated play in the first, outshooting Albany 14-5. Jordan Hill got the hosts on the board first, followed by a Sean Backman power play tally 3:09 later. Mike Sislo would get the Devils on the board late in the period with his 9th goal on the season. Second period, same old story: Bridgeport would dominate in shots once again, with a 13-4 advantage. The Devils had a chance to tie it when Phil DeSimone was awarded a penalty shot, but could not get the shot off. Hill would then add his second goal of the game for a 3-1 lead. Ty Wishart would add a power play tally with just under 4 minutes remaining to make it 4-1. David Wohlberg would cut the deficit to 2 with his second goal of the season late. But that was all the Devils could do offensively, despite finally waking up in the third period and outshooting Bridgeport 12-4 (yes, it took till the third period to finally break double digit shots), en route to their fifth straight loss and a 1-5 road trip. Kinkaid stopped 27 of 31 shots in taking the loss, while four different Devils registered assists.
Sadly, no Cam Janssen Obligatory Fight Of The Week. As for a suitable replacement…scroll ahead to the 1:20 mark.
When the weekend began, the Devils were tied for 9th place in the conference, just 3 points away from being back in the race. With no points gained, they fell into a tie for 11th with Worcester and Bridgeport, all 3 teams stand at 65 points. They are 2 points behind 9th place Norfolk and Manchester, and 6 points out of the top 8 (Wilkes-Barre and Hershey are tied for 7th). The magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at 29.
-After staying an extra 2 days with the team after Jeff Frazee’s return from New Jersey, Scott Wedgewood was officially re-assigned to Trenton on Thursday.
-Harri Pesonen was sent back to Albany on Friday after the Devils acquired Matt D’Agostini from St. Louis. He played in Saturday’s game in Syracuse, then was recalled to New Jersey on Sunday after Ilya Kovalchuk was injured in Saturday’s win over the Panthers.
-Injury update: Chris McKelvie returned to the lineup Friday night in Binghamton after suffering a foot injury in Wilkes-Barre earlier in the month. Dan Kelly, Raman Hrabarenka, and Jacob Josefson all sat out the weekend with assorted injuries. Mattias Tedenby is back practicing with the team, but no word on when he will return.
The Week Ahead:
The Devils finally return to home ice for the first time since March 10th, with the last non 3 in 3 weekend of the season. Wednesday night they host St. John’s for the first time since late November. Friday evening Hershey makes their only visit to the Capital Region on the season (the previous home matchup was in Atlantic City), then to close the week on Saturday Portland comes in for their only appearance.