Albany would have been just as comfortable in blue collars as in the red rivalry jerseys Saturday, specially made for this season’s series with the Adirondack Phantoms.
The River Rats outworked the Phantoms in a 4-1 divisional win, their third straight, hustling to loose pucks and scoring by getting physical around the net.
“The word in the room for the last week was, ‘Put the puck on the net and just crash the net. Get dirty goals,’ ” Albany’s Jerome Samson said. “I don’t think one of our goals tonight was like a tic-tac-toe. It feels good to score around the net.”
Samson put the Rats up at the 10:32 mark, after Jay Harrison sent the puck goalward from the left side. Samson was waiting when the bounce came loose, with plenty of time to make sure he was on target with his rebound shot.
Adirondack coach Greg Gilbert once again was disappointed his players didn’t fight their way toward the goal as often as the Rats.
“If we’re not going to shoot the puck and drive to the net and pay the price to score, we’re not going to score,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. You look at the goals they scored tonight, they had three guys in our back end. They weren’t afraid to take slashes and cross-checks and what-have-you to score goals and they ended up winning the game. It’s a pretty simple format.”
Early on, both teams found breakaway opportunities. Albany coach Jeff Daniels said he had to talk his team down and get them back into their game plan.
“I told the guys we weren’t here to put on a show,” he said. “We want to play our game. It kind of happened last night, too, with Hershey. We kind of got into a track meet, going back and forth. That’s not our style. We don’t want to trade chances back and forth. Once we settled down and got rid of the panic in our game, we got back to our game.”
Jacob Micflikier added the second goal in the second period, again by waiting on the far side for a bounce and tucking it away behind Adirondack goaltender Johan Backlund. With 4:08 off the clock in the third period, a Carson shot was deflected in front of Backlund by Nicolas Blanchard for a goal and a 3-0 lead.
Stefan Legein broke up the shutout bid of Mike Murphy 14:09 into the third, but Stefan Chaput re-established the three-goal cushion 1:24 later, poking in his own rebound.
Chaput, Murphy and Legein were the three stars of the game. Murphy said Chaput’s goal was a back-breaker.
“When they made it 3-1, the place got a little bit louder, but we kept going and scored that fourth goal,” he said. “It kind of deflated the building, I thought. It was huge to have that goal support.”
More goal support just arrived with Jiri Tlusty, acquired in a recent trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs and loaned to Albany. He cleared customs Saturday and is expected to play tonight at 5 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Murphy said after the performance of goalie Justin Peters in Friday’s win, he was glad to get the start Saturday and eager to perform.
Albany 1 1 2 — 4
Adirondack 0 0 1 — 1
First Period — 1, Albany, Samson 10 (Harrison, Chaput), 10:32. Penalties — FitzGerald, Alb (roughing), 2:58; Maroon, Adk (boarding), 2:58; FitzGerald, Alb (roughing), 7:47; Bourdon, Adk (holding), 11:45; Boychuk, Alb (boarding), 14:20; Kolanos, Adk (tripping), 15:50.
Second Period — 2, Albany, Micflikier 4 (Dwyer, Hennigar), 8:44. Penalties — Harrison, Alb (boarding), 4:16; Kolanos, Adk (hooking), 6:34; Ross, Adk (interference), 10:46; Matsumoto, Adk (tripping), 13:22; Harrison, Alb (cross-checking), 14:57.
Third Period — 3, Albany, Blanchard 2 (Carson, Angelidis), 4:08; 4, Adirondack, Legein 8 (Matsumoto, Ward), 14:09; 5, Albany, Chaput 4 (Goertzen), 15:33. Penalties — Bellamy, Adk (kneeing), 5:15; Goertzen, Alb (interference), 8:18; Syvret, Adk (slashing), 16:24.
Shots on goal — Albany 6-10-8 — 24. Adirondack 6-8-7 — 21.
Power-play opportunities — Albany 0 of 7; Adirondack 0 of 5.
Goalies — Albany, Murphy 5-6-0 (21 shots-20 saves); Adirondack, Backlund 6-8-0 (24 shots-20 saves).
A — 4,611. T — 2:17.
Referee — Nigel Pelletier. Linesmen — Frank Murphy, Steeve Lemay.