Week 27 Recap: On Life Support

A crucial three in three weekend, all on the road.  But with only two out of six points gained–and a little help from opponents–the Devils still find themselves mathematically alive for the final East playoff spot, but just barely hanging by a thread going into the final week of the regular season.

Friday: After making one appearance for New Jersey, Seth Helgeson and Raman Hrabarenka were reassigned to Albany.

4/10 at Binghamton: 6-3 L

The crucial road trip began in the Southern Tier on Friday evening, as Albany looked for a repeat performance of Saturday’s decisive win over the Senators.  The hosts got off to a good start, taking a 1-0 lead on a Cole Schneider goal.  Binghamton, much like the Devils last visit in November, would explode in the second period, scoring 4 times on Scott Wedgewood.  Aaron Johnson, Shane Prince, Schneider, and rookie Matthew Zay would all score in a 12:14 span (with the last two goals coming just 16 seconds apart) for a commanding 5-0 lead.  But the Devils were not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet.  Tim Sestito would break up the shutout just 35 seconds into the third period to make it 5-1.  Joe Faust, finally getting a chance to play with Helgeson and Hrabarenka still en route from Florida, would score his first as  a professional 2:08 later for a 5-2 lead.  Mike Sislo would then add his 18th with 7:32 to go to make it a two goal deficit.  But it was all they could muster, and Schneider would finish off the hat trick with an empty netter to seal the win, shrinking the Devils tragic number down to 5 (thanks to a shootout loss by Portland in Manchester).  Wedgewood stopped 22 of 27 shots in the loss.  Joe Whitney,  in his first game back since getting injured in Norfolk, had three assists, while Brandon Burlon added two helpers.  And not a good night defensively for the top line…Paul Thompson finished at a -4.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Max Novak

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Graham Black, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg, Brandon Baddock

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Joe Faust

Reece Scarlett/Mike Keenan

Saturday: Before New Jersey’s final game of the season, it was announced that Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau would be returned to Albany after the game, rejoining the team on Sunday.  Boucher played on the fourth line in the Devils 3-2 loss to Florida, while Matteau sat out.

4/11 at Hartford: 2-1 L

It was on to the capital of Connecticut on Saturday, as Albany tried to keep its fading playoff chances alive.  Much like the night before, the Devils found themselves down early in the first period, as Chad Nehring would give Hartford a 1-0 lead midway through the first.  Raman Hrabarenka, in his first game back since making his NHL debut on Thursday, scored his 9th early in the second period to tie things up at 1.  Oscar Lindberg would break the tie later in the second to put the Wolfpack ahead 2-1.  Despite outshooting the hosts 26-23, the Devils just could not get the equalizer past former Devils backup goaltender Yann Danis, and their playoff hopes are just about extinguished, but a Portland loss to the Penguins still keeps them mathematically in it.  Scott Clemmensen played very well but got stuck with the loss, stopping 21 of 23 shots.  Darcy Zajac and Seth Helgeson had the lone assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Graham Black, Ben Johnson, Brandon Baddock, Max Novak

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

4/12 at Worcester: 3-2 W

The weekend ended in central Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon, as Albany paid their last visit to Worcester for the foreseeable future, with the Sharks moving to San Jose next season.  Worcester began the day needing just one point to clinch the seventh playoff spot in the East, while Albany needed to avoid a third straight loss in order to keep their hopes intact.  On a late first period power play, Daniil Tarasov put the hosts on the board first.  But Albany would tie things up midway through the second period with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Reid Boucher, just back in town after finishing the season in New Jersey.  Paul Thompson would score his franchise record 33rd goal, coming on a power play, 7:32 into the third period to give Albany a 2-1 advantage.  With Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell pulled late for an extra skater, Stefan Matteau would come through and shoot it into the empty net for a 3-1 lead.  That goal became very important when Barclay Goodrow would score with just 23.3 seconds remaining to make it a 3-2 game.  But the Sharks were unable to tie it, and Albany salvaged their only win of the weekend, staying mathematically in it thanks to a Portland loss to the Penguins.  Scott Wedgewood rebounded nicely from his Friday disaster in Binghamton, stopping 25 or 27 shots in picking up win #13.  Five Devils would each have assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Matt Lorito-Joe Whitney-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Tim Sestito-Max Novak

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Graham Black, Brandon Baddock, Darcy Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Ben Johnson

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Mike Keenan

Extra: Joe Faust, Corbin McPherson

Conference Standings:

After Sunday’s action, here’s where the final playoff spot race stands:

8. Portland–83 points

9. Springfield–83

10. Albany–79

Portland and Albany each have 3 games left, Springfield 2.  The magic number falls to 11 to clinch (of course plenty of help still needed), while the tragic number sits at 3.

Pop Quiz: With Sunday being the last visit to Worcester, what is Albany’s all time record at the Centrum/DCU Center?  The answer coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

With the one good fight not up yet, let’s do some digging.  Here’s a bout from the newest ATO from February.

My Player of the Week:

This week it’s about two players who reached milestones this weekend.  Joe Whitney reached the 200 point mark for his professional career on Friday night, while Paul Thompson officially set the franchise single season mark for goals on Sunday with his 33rd.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (33)

Assists: Joe Whitney (33)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (53)

+/-: Graham Black (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (130)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (13)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.35)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.914)

ECHL Update:

Regular season ended on Saturday for Evansville and Orlando.  The Solar Bears will face Florida in the first round of the playoffs.

Myles Bell (Evansville): 41 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -22, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 54 GP, 9 G, 12 A, 21 Pts, +8, 20 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 16 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -1, 33 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 21 GP, 9-7-2-2, 3.11 GAA, .897 Save Pct.

Injury Update:

All are healthy with the exception of Kelly Zajac (lower) and Graham Black (lower), both have been shut down for the season.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games remain on the 2014-15 slate.  Wednesday Albany plays host to Syracuse.  Friday night they travel to northeast Pennsylvania to take on the Penguins.  Finally on Saturday they close things out on home ice against Hartford.

Pop Quiz Answer: Since Worcester entered the league as the IceCats for the 1994-95 season, Albany teams have a lifetime record of 13 wins, 16 losses, 3 ties, 1 overtime loss, and 1 shootout loss.  The first win came on January 14, 1995, a 6-3 River Rat victory.

 

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