Week 23 Recap: In at the Last Second

How to describe the latest perfect 3 in 3 weekend for the Devils…I wouldn’t know where to begin.  From comebacks, to the new guy immediately making an impact, to beating two potential playoff opponents…this 3 game set had just about everything.

3/11 at Binghamton: 3-2 W (OT)

One last stop on the road trip…and it was in Albany’s personal house of horrors, the Broome County VMA, as the Devils took on the Senators for the first time since allowing 6 shots on Black Friday.  And it was the visitors getting off to a good start, outshooting Binghamton 11-4 in the first and grabbing a 1-0 lead late in the period on Reece Scarlett’s fourth goal of the season.  After an uneventful second period, things fell apart fairly quickly for the Devils in the third.  After a questionable call that lead to a 5 on 3 for the Senators, Jason Akeson would tie the game up at 1.  A mere 8 seconds after the kill ended, and 41 seconds after Akeson’s tying goal, Michael Keranen would put Binghamton ahead 2-1.  Albany was in danger of losing their first game in regulation when leading after two periods (going into Friday they were 25-0-3-0)…but with just 6.8 seconds to go and Ken Appleby pulled for a sixth attacker, Matt Lorito would tie it up with his 14th goal.  It was on to overtime, where Brian O’Neill would end things very quickly, scoring just 12 seconds into the extra frame for his second game winner in 6 days, and giving the Devils their second straight win and a 3-2-1 mark for the road trip.  Appleby stopped 23 of 25 Senator shots in picking up his third win.  Nick Lappin made his pro debut on a line with Lorito and O’Neill, and picked up his first pro point with an assist.  Jim O’Brien assisted on all three goals.

The Lineup:

Max Novak-Jim O’Brien-Ryan Kujawinski

Nick Lappin-Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill

Ben Johnson-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Vojtech Mozik

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Ken Appleby/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Blake Coleman, Paul Thompson, Blake Pietila, Raman Hrabarenka

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 25.

Highlights:

3/12 vs. Utica: 4-3 W

Finally back in the Capital Region for the first time since February 24th, it was playoff preview part 1 on Saturday as the Devils hosted Utica.  Also back for the first time in what seemed like ages: Scott Wedgewood got his first start since hurting his shoulder back in January.  And he was welcomed back quite rudely by Chris Higgins, as he sneaked one in just 1:15 into the contest for a quick 1-0 Utica lead.  It took until more than midway through the second for the rest of the Devils to get into the contest, as Jim O’Brien’s 11th goal of the season would tie things up.  Utica would take the lead back on a Taylor Fedun goal just under four minutes after that.  But much like the last two games, the Devils would mount a comeback.  In a span of 4:22 early in the third period, Nick Lappin (his first as a pro), O’Brien (with his second of the day), and Ben Thomson (his 5th) would all score and suddenly it was a 4-2 contest.  Utica would get to within one goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation, but could not get the equalizer, giving Albany their third straight victory.  Wedgewood did not have much work in his first start back, only having to stop 16 of 19 shots in picking up the win.  Six different Devils would have helpers.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Nick Lappin

Ryan Kujawinski-Jim O’Brien-Max Novak

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Ken Appleby

Out: Blake Coleman, Dan Kelly, Paul Thompson, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 9.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

Sunday: With Dan Kelly out for at least a couple of weeks thanks to a knee on knee hit in Binghamton on Friday (a play that ended up giving Binghamton’s Buddy Robinson a 2 game suspension), Joe Faust was summoned back from Adirondack to reassume his 7th defenseman role.

3/13 vs. Toronto: 3-2 W

To round out the weekend, the first place Marlies came in for their first visit since early November.  No goals in the first, but the Devils were forced to kill off 3 separate Toronto power plays while being denied a few chances of their own.  Brendan Leipsic would put the visitors on the board just one minute after the start of the second period.  But things would then slide the Devils way as the period progressed, as finally they received a few power play opportunities…and on two of those Raman Hrabarenka would score twice in a 2:27 span to put Albany ahead 2-1.  Toronto would tie things up early in the third on a Eric Faille goal.  The game looked destined to head into overtime…but the new guy would come to the rescue.  Nick Lappin’s second pro goal came with just 39.5 seconds to go in regulation, giving the Devils a huge win over the top team in the AHL and cap off another perfect weekend, extending their win streak to 4 games.  Another relatively easy day in net for Scott Wedgewood, as he only faced 19 shots, stopping 17 of them.  Marc-Andre Gragnani and Matt Lorito would each add two assists, while Jim O’Brien and Blake Pietila picked up a helper each.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Jim O’Brien-Nick Lappin

Ryan Kujawinski-Blake Pietila-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Ken Appleby

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Paul Thompson, Brian O’Neill, Joe Faust

Power Play: 2 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

There was an obvious choice out of this weekend…well, actually, two obvious choices.  But I’ll lean more towards Jim O’Brien and his six point performance.  But at the same time…you got to go with the new guy stepping right in and being a game changer in all three games.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Matt Lorito (14)

Assists: Matt Lorito (34)

Points: Matt Lorito (48)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+25)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (98)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (8)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.80)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.924)

The Vault:

Friday night Jim O’Brien earned #1 star honors against his former team.  So, here he is 3 years ago with said former team scoring against Pittsburgh:

Up North with the Thunder:

A four game week for Adirondack started out promising, but it didn’t end so well, as they went 1-3.  On Tuesday the Thunder took a 4-3 overtime win over Manchester on the road.  Then they dropped a home and home series to Elmira, 2-0 at home on Thursday and 4-2 in Elmira on Friday.  Then on Sunday night in a special home game in Lake Placid, they were shutout by Reading 1-0.  Greg Wolfe picked up a goal and an assist against Manchester, while Alexandre Carrier was busy in another category, racking up 20 penalty minutes.  It’s off to Florida for the week for the Thunder, as they take on the Solar Bears in a three game set on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another three games, but at least it’s a spread out schedule.  Wednesday Providence makes their final visit of the season.  Then it’s back on the road for a pair: Saturday the Devils travel to Utica for another first round playoff preview against the Comets.  Then it’s one last trip to southern Connecticut on Sunday afternoon to face Bridgeport.

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