Week 22 Recap: Split on the Rock

Only two games on the docket this week, but it took the Devils awhile to travel there…it was back to a familiar place, St. John’s.  The last time they were on that rink, the 2013-14 season came to an end.  This time around, it was a much better trip, capturing 3 out of 4 points and staying within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the East.

3/6 at St. John’s: 2-1 L (OT)

For round 1, Scott Clemmensen drew the start against All Star Connor Hellebuyck.  With Seth Helgeson in the penalty box, Chase Balisy would score on the ensuing power play to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  And that was all the action…until early in the third period.  On a turnover, Stefan Matteau would break away alone and score his 8th of the season to tie the game up.  With literally nothing across for the rest of regulation, it was off to overtime, where on an odd man rush John Albert would finish it off just 1:42 into the extra frame to give the IceCaps the win.  Clemmensen played well in his first start since returning from his latest New Jersey backup stint, stopping 20 of 22 shots.  Darcy Zajac had the lone assist, and as for Helgeson’s penalty?  It was the only one called all game (kudos to lone referee T.J. Luxmore for letting the teams play).

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Darcy Zajac

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Extra: Cam Janssen (susp), Kelly Zajac (inj), David Wohlberg, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

3/7 at St. John’s: 2-0 W

A few lineup changes before the rematch on Saturday evening: David Wohlberg went in while Chris McKelvie went out.  And Scott Wedgewood drew the start in net.  Stefan Matteau continued his hot play as of late, scoring his 9th of the season and second in as many days late in the first period for a 1-0 lead.  A scary moment for Albany came midway through the second, as Wedgewood was forced to leave the game with an apparent hand injury.  Scott Clemmensen was summoned from the bullpen and only had to stop 4 IceCap shots for the remainder of the period.  Just after the goalie switch, Reid Boucher scored his 13th off a turnover to double the Albany lead.  And that was all Clemmensen would need, as he stopped all 13 St. John’s shots the rest of the way to earn the combined shutout and a split of the two game series.  Wedgewood stopped 11 of 11 shots before exiting, while Boucher had the lone assist.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Paul Thompson-Tim Sestito-David Wohlberg

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Conference Standings:

After Saturday’s action, here’s the updated standings:

8. Portland–68 points

9. Hartford–68

10. St. John’s–64

11. Albany–62

12. Lehigh Valley–59

Only six points separate the Devils from getting into the top 8.  The magic number to clinch is at 43, but the tragic number (meaning elimination…if I’m doing the math right) is 29.

Pop Quiz: Prior to Stefan Matteau, who was the last Devil to get a game winning goal at Mile One?  The answer coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Two very good bouts during Saturday’s rematch…but no video proof.  Again.

So for this week…we’re going old school.  Since everyone in New Jersey is reminiscing about 1995 this weekend, there’s another event that happened 20 years ago as well…the lone Albany Calder Cup championship.  I did some digging on YouTube and found this from January 1995:

My Player of the Week:

This was a fairly easy decision…Stefan Matteau has been on a tear as of late.  He scores 2 out of the 3 Albany goals on the weekend, and is currently on a 6 game point streak (4 goals, 2 assists).

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (24)

Assists: Joe Whitney (26)

Points: Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Graham Black (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (96)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (9)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.62)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.904)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 34 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM (returned to the lineup for the first time since 2/6)

Eric Baier (Orlando): 37 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 Pts, +5, 11 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, Even, 0 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 28 G, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, +1, 18 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando):  13 GP, 6-5-0, 3.43 GAA, .883 Save Pct. (took the loss 3/3 vs. Cincinnati, 27 saves/28 shots)

Injury Update:

Just as I thought everyone was healthy, Kelly Zajac (lower) misses the St. John’s trip.  Not expected to be out for long.  And we will wait and see on what happens with Scott Wedgewood.

This Week’s Schedule: Another 3 in 3 weekend looms, but the good news is it starts a season long 6 game homestand.  Friday night Worcester makes its final visit before moving to San Jose next season.  Saturday afternoon a suddenly struggling Syracuse team visits for the first time since January.  Finally on Sunday afternoon the Falcons make their last visit of the season.

Pop Quiz Answer: The last Devil to score a game winner in St. John’s before Saturday?  It was Bobby Butler, in a 5-3 Devil win on November 17, 2012.  Other goal scorers for Albany that night? Jacob Josefson, Darcy Zajac (who scored twice), and Adam Larsson.

Note: Photo Gallery is taking the week off.

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