Springtime Rally

The last non 3 in 3 weekend before the end of the regular season…and it had a little of everything, from two third period rallies (one successful) to an offensive explosion, resulting in a 5-6 point week for the Devils, keeping them in the thick of things for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.  Recapping this week’s events:

Tuesday: With Ryan Carter nursing an upper body injury, Tim Sestito was recalled to New Jersey and took Carter’s place on the fourth line in the Devils loss to the Bruins.  He left the game Thursday night after taking an elbow to the head against the Wild, no timetable has been given on his return.

3/19 vs. Binghamton: 2-1 W

Albany closed out a 3 game homestand with a visit from the Senators, who began the night in first place in the East and holding down #3 in the conference with Wilkes-Barre and Norfolk very close behind.  Scott Wedgewood drew the start, looking to extend a personal scoreless streak of 126:50.  He added 20 minutes to it, as both teams went scoreless through the first.  Second period saw Albany outshoot Binghamton 9-2.  But one of those 2 shots, off the stick of Matt Puempel, would find its way past Wedgewood while on a power play to give the Senators a 1-0 lead…and stop Wedgewood’s streak at 162:44.  Third period the Devils would start a comeback, as Reid Boucher would score on a power play to tie the game up with just over 7 minutes to go in regulation.  Then with under 3 minutes remaining, Mike Sislo would take the pass from Harri Pesonen and score a beautiful breakaway goal, his 22nd of the year, to give Albany a 2-1 lead.  The Senators would pull the goalie with less than a minute to go while killing a late power play, but were unable to tie it up, and Albany skated away with its third straight win, moving them up to 6th place in the conference.  Another relatively easy night for Wedgewood, as he stopped 18 of 19 shots.  Pesonen and Scott Timmins each added assists.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley-Mike Sislo

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Mike Hoeffel-David Wohlberg-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Cam Janssen, Chris McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett

3/22 at Syracuse: 6-2 W

The Devils headed west on the Thruway to Syracuse on Saturday evening to take on the Crunch for the second time in 6 days.  The visitors came out flying in the first period, scoring three times.  But what’s interesting here is where the three goals came from.  Raman Hrabarenka opened the scoring with a shot from the blue line 3:28 into the game.  Adam Larsson followed with a goal of his own from near the same location 5 minutes later.  Alexander Urbom capped off the scoring with his first of the season, almost in the same spot, late in the period.  Reid Boucher padded the lead with his 18th early in the second.  Syracuse finally got on the board on a Brett Connolly power play goal to cut the lead to 4-1.  But Kelly Zajac would follow with a nice breakaway goal just after an expiring penalty kill to regain a 4 goal lead.  Mike Sislo would add his team leading 23rd goal on a power play early in the third to make it 6-1.  The Crunch would get one back on a 5 on 3 advantage late in the third, but that was all they could muster as the Devils won their fourth in a row.  Another strong outing from Scott Wedgewood as he stopped 22 of 24 shots.  Joe Whitney had two assists, while four others, including Cam Janssen in his first game back since February, added one helper.  And everyone finished at worst a +1, Urbom finished a +3 on the night.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg-Cam Janssen

Extra: Mike Hoeffel, Chris McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett

3/23 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 3-2 L (OT)

It was back to Atlantic City for one last time as the Devils played host to the Penguins, a team they were tied with points wise, but the Penguins held the tiebreaker due to more ROW (regulation/OT wins).  Chuck Kobasew put the Penguins on the board nearly halfway through the first on a power play goal.  After a scoreless second, the Devils would mount a rally in the third, similar to Wednesday night against Binghamton.  Adam Larsson scored his second goal in as many days42 seconds in to tie the game up at 1.  Darcy Zajac would follow that with his first goal of the season to put Albany up 2-1.  But unlike Wednesday, when the Devils held on to win, the Penguins would spoil the comeback bid.  Brendan Mikkelsen would put one past Keith Kinkaid (in his first appearance in 9 days) to tie the game at 2 with 1:04 to go in regulation.  It was on to overtime, where just 1:22 in the Penguins would chip away and Kobasew would poke it in the net for the game winner and the all important extra standings point.  So in a span of 2:26 the Devils went from having a regulation win and a jump into 5th place to just gaining one point and staying put in 6th.  Kinkaid stopped 19 of 22 shots, while Scott Timmins picked up the lone assist of the day.

Lines:

Mike Sislo-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Harri Pesonen

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Mike Hoeffel-Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Reid Boucher (personal), Chris McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Corbin McPherson/Seth Helgeson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett

Conference Standings:

After Sunday’s action, well, still a logjam for spots 5-9 in the Eastern Conference:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–80 points

6. ALBANY–79 points

7. Norfolk–77 points

8. Providence–77 points

9. Hershey–72 points

If I did the calculations right, the magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at 16.  And something else to keep an eye on: with the regulation point and a loss by Springfield, the Devils are 5 points behind the Falcons for first place in the division.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

One fight, but still waiting on the video evidence.

My Player of the Week:

This was a hard one, with a few candidates to choose from.  But I have decided to split it between Mike Sislo and Adam Larsson, both with two goals and an assist on the week.  Honorable mention to Scott Wedgewood who has been on a roll with a 4 game winning streak.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (29)

Points: Joe Whitney (50)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+16)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (91)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.38)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.909)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Not a good weekend series for the Jackals, as they were swept in a pair of games in Cincinnati to see their record fall to 22-33-3-5.  Riley Boychuk had one assist in a 4-1 loss on Saturday.  Harry Young was a little busy, compiling 11 penalty minutes in the two games.

As for the Solar Bears…they went 2-1 on a road swing through Fort Wayne and South Carolina.  Maxime Clermont made one appearance, a Saturday night shootout victory in South Carolina, stopping 33 of 36 shots in regulation/overtime and 4 of 5 shootout attempts.  Orlando stands at 38-21-2-2 on the season, good for 4th place in the Eastern Conference.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend to finish out the month of March.  Friday night the Devils travel to Hershey to take on the Bears, who are just on the outside looking in.  Saturday it’s back on home ice to take on the suddenly surging Sharks in their only visit to the Capital Region.  Finally on Sunday afternoon Binghamton pays their second visit in 11 days.

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