A quiet week saw the Devils earn 2 out of 4 points in two very close games. But the Devils finally did something that an Albany team hasn’t done since 2012: win in overtime.
The Devils started the week with a rare Thursday night game, traveling to the capital of Connecticut for the third time already this season to face the Wolfpack. Scott Clemmensen, just back down from New Jersey, drew the start, his first game action since a shootout loss to Calgary on November 22nd. Albany found themselves down early as Chris Bourque and Justin Vaive (on a power play) scored less than three minutes apart during the first for a 2-0 advantage. Reid Boucher, just back from playing in New Jersey’s loss to Chicago on Tuesday, scored his fifth to cut the lead in half. Bourque would strike again midway through the second, scoring his 2nd of the night on a power play to restore the 2 goal lead. If you recall, the Devils faced a similar deficit the last time the two teams faced each other, back on November 26th in the Capital Region. That night, Joe Whitney scored twice in the third to tie the game up and send it to overtime. Well, that didn’t quite happen this time around. Rod Pelley got the Devils to within one goal midway through the third with just his second goal of the season. Albany pulled Clemmensen late, but got stuck with a two man disadvantage late in the period, and could not get the tying goal. Clemmensen stopped 30 of 33 shots in his return, while three Devils each had assists. The game also marked the AHL debut of Myles Bell, who skated on the third line and had just one shot on goal.
Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson
Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau
Myles Bell-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson
Ben Johnson-Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg
Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Alexandre Carrier
Brandon Burlon/Joe Faust
Mark Fraser/Eric Baier
Corbin McPherson/Mike Keenan
Extra: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett, Raman Hrabarenka
The second and final trip to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall came on Sunday afternoon, as the Devils faced off against their former North Country rivals for the second time in 16 days. Tim Sestito got the “home” team on the board (and I use the term loosely since I saw a lot of orange and black in the crowd) midway through the first with his fifth goal of the season. And as the game progressed it looked like it was the only goal Scott Wedgewood was going to need, as through the first two periods he had stopped all 22 Phantom shots. But Lehigh Valley rallied in the third, as Taylor Leier and Zack Stortini (yes, that Zack Stortini) scored 3:03 apart to put the Phantoms ahead 2-1. Joe Whitney would answer with his 9th goal on a power play to re-tie the game at 2. But 27 seconds later Andrew Gordon would give the Phantoms the lead right back. But it was Whitney to the rescue again, as he would re-tie the game again with his 10th with just under 6 minutes to go in regulation. It was on to the dreaded overtime, where I was ready to just say give Lehigh Valley the point now and be done with it. But not on this day. For the first time in almost 3 years, the Devils finally got an overtime winning goal, as Sestito’s second of the game just trickled past Phantoms goaltender Rob Zepp with 4:10 to go in OT for the win. Despite a nerve wracking third, Wedgewood stopped 29 of 32 shots and picked up win #4 of the season. Paul Thompson and Reid Boucher each had 2 assists, while two others had one assist each. The game marked the returns of both Dan Kelly and Reece Scarlett to the lineup, and the AHL debut of Alexandre Carrier, who skated on the fourth line and finished a -1.
Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson
Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Reid Boucher
Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Myles Bell
David Wohlberg-Darcy Zajac-Alexandre Carrier
Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Scott Timmins, Ben Johnson, Cam Janssen
Corbin McPherson/Brandon Burlon
Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett
Mark Fraser/Joe Faust
Extra: Raman Hrabarenka, Eric Baier, Mike Keenan
Monday: A swap of forwards between Albany and New Jersey, as Sestito was rewarded for his two goal game with his first recall of the season and Mike Sislo was sent down to make room for Travis Zajac’s return from the mumps. Sislo appeared in 6 games since being recalled on December 4th, with no points.
Pop Quiz: Who was the winning goaltender the last time the Devils won a game in OT? Stick around till the end for the answer.
Obligatory Fight of the Week:
Ben Thomson making his second appearance in this spot:
My Player of the Week:
Splitting it between the heroes of Sunday’s win on the Boardwalk, Joe Whitney and Tim Sestito, and an honorable mention to both Reid Boucher and Mark Fraser for getting on the scoresheet in both games this week.
Goals: Paul Thompson (11)
Assists: Scott Timmins (13)
Points: Joe Whitney (22)
+/-: Paul Thompson (+10)
Penalty Minutes: Darcy Zajac (53)
Wins: Scott Wedgewood (4)
GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.33)
Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.918)
Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 9 GP, 5-3-0, 3.76 GAA, .873 Save Percentage
No new updates on when the following may return: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, or Raman Hrabarenka. After missing nearly two weeks Dan Kelly and Reece Scarlett are finally back on ice.
This Week’s Schedule:
Two weekend games, all on the road, await before the Christmas break. Friday night the Devils head to Wilkes-Barre to take on the Penguins, then head north on Interstate 81 on Saturday night for their first visit to Syracuse of the season to face the Crunch.
Pop Quiz Answer: Before Sunday, the last Devils goaltender to get the win in overtime? It was Jeff Frazee, who stopped 28 of 32 Norfolk shots in a 5-4 win on January 6, 2012, in Virginia.