Staying in the Race

Looking back on a week that saw the Devils go 1-1-0-1 in their latest 3 in 3 weekend, a swing through New England, and hang on to a postseason playoff berth:

Wednesday: To ensure AHL eligibility for the rest of the season and a potential playoff run, Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill were sent down and recalled on paper.  New Jersey’s regular season ends April 13th, so if they do not get into the Stanley Cup playoffs, Albany could have both back no later than the final two games of the regular season.

3/7 at Portland: 4-3 W (SO)

The New England 3 in 3 weekend began north in Portland…oops I mean Lewiston…as the Devils made their first of two visits to Maine to take on the Pirates.  It looked like it was going to turn into one of those nights when Jordan Martinook scored just 26 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.  Scott Timmins would even up the game at 1 halfway through the period.  Albany took the game over in the second, scoring twice and outshooting Portland 16-5.  Reid Boucher broke the tie early on with his 15th of the season.  Then on a fluke play, right off a faceoff Tim Sestito shot it towards the Pirate net and it trickled in, putting Albany up 3-1.  Brendan Shinnimin took advantage of a Adam Larsson misplay of the puck, broke away shorthanded, and made it a one goal game.  Despite a 7-3 shot advantage for Albany in the third, a new problem popped up yet again.  With Alexander Urbom in the box on a questionable interference call, Tobias Rieder would tie the game up at 3 with 4:13 remaining in regulation.  That makes the third straight game with a blown third period lead, something you could not imagine happening with this team earlier in the season.  Nothing across the rest of the period and in overtime (as a matter of fact, not one team took a shot on goal in the extra frame), so for the second straight game it was on to a shootout.  Boucher and Joe Whitney connected in the first four rounds, while Andy Miele and Brandon Yip scored for the Pirates.  In the fifth round, Daine Todd missed, so it was up to Stefan Matteau to either end it or send it to extra rounds.  And he would come through, giving the Devils the win and the much needed extra standings point.  Not a bad night overall for Keith Kinkaid in net, as he stopped 18 of 21 shots in regulation (none faced in overtime) to pick up the win.  Adam Larsson and Mattias Tedenby had the lone assists.

Lines:

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Joe Whitney

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Adam Larsson

Extras: Dan Kelly, Raman Hrabarenka

3/8 at Hartford: 4-3 L

It was on to Connecticut’s state capital on Saturday for a matchup with the Wolfpack.  After a scoreless first period, Brandon Burlon would get the visitors on the board halfway through the second on a power play goal.  Jesper Fast and Bretton Stamler would score 2:34 apart late in the period to put Hartford up 2-1.  J.T. Miller would add a goal early in the third for a two goal lead.  But the Devils would rally and tie it up as Mike Sislo (with his 19th) and Joe Whitney (with his 20th) would score 29 seconds apart.  But Ryan Bourque would score the go ahead goal with 7:35 to go in regulation.  The Devils had their chances at the very end, getting a late power play opportunity, but could not get it in net (one shot actually rang off the inside post and out), and fell to 8th in the playoff race.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 17 of 21 shots in taking the loss.  Kelly Zajac added two assists, while two other Devils had one helper each.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Extras: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

3/9 at Worcester: 4-3 L (SO)

The Devils finished off the weekend with their only visit of the season to Worcester to take on the Sharks.  And a very interesting matchup in net, as two former Union teammates squared off: Keith Kinkaid for Albany and Troy Grosenick for the Sharks.  Despite a 15-3 shot advantage by the Devils in the first period, it was the Sharks with the 1-0 lead on a Marek Viedensky goal.  Rylan Schwartz doubled the lead midway through the second.  Reid Boucher would get Albany on the board late in the second with his 16th of the season.  Third period saw an early goal from John McCarthy to put the Sharks back up by two.  But Albany would rally back and tie the game on goals from David Wohlberg and Harri Pesonen.  Nothing across for the remainder of regulation or into overtime, so it was off to the second shootout of the weekend.  And this time it didn’t go so well, with Mike Sislo the only Devil out of five to connect on Grosenick.  Kinkaid gave up a goal in the first round, then gave up the winner to Freddie Hamilton in the fifth round to give the Sharks the extra standings point.  Kinkaid stopped 19 of 22 shots in 65 minutes of work.  Five Devils each had an assist.

Lines:

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby-Scott Timmins

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Extra: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

Conference Standings:

The bottom half of the Eastern Conference remains pretty tight:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-72 pts

6. Providence-72 pts

7. Binghamton-71 pts

8. ALBANY-70 pts

9. Hershey-67 pts

At this point, the Devils are on pace to finish at 90 points, which would put them 7th in the conference.  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth sits at 32.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

We interrupt this Portland goal celebration for a quick one by Chris McKelvie:

My Player of the Week:

Add another accomplishment to Joe Whitney’s resume for the season.  With his 20th goal of the season on Saturday (one that tied up the game in Hartford), he tied Stephen Gionta for the franchise lead in career points with 140.  And give some credit to the skaters…despite the record and goals allowed, on the weekend they outshot the opposition by a 112-65 margin.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (20)

Assists: Joe Whitney (25)

Points: Joe Whitney (45)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (87)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.26)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.914)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

The Jackals split a 2 game weekend on home ice, defeating Evansville on Friday and dropping a OT decision to Wheeling on Saturday.  Artem Demkov was the only prospect to hit the scoresheet, notching an assist in Saturday’s game.  Riley Boychuk was quite busy on Friday, amassing 15 penalty minutes.  Meanwhile down south, the Solar Bears went 1-3 (with one loss in OT) on the week, but no appearances at all from Maxime Clermont, not even as a backup.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend awaits, but at least it’s a mostly home schedule.  Friday night the Devils finish off the New England road swing with a visit to Springfield to take on the Falcons.  Saturday it’s real home ice for the first time since February 23rd to take on Hartford (and it’s the annual Pucks and Paws day).  Sunday afternoon Syracuse comes in to finish the weekend off.

And no photo gallery this week…because guess who forgot to pack the camera when she went to Worcester? (raises hand…sorry.  I blame Daylight Savings).  I do have a few photos on my Instagram page if you want to check those out (click the link on the right hand side of the page).

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