With the season winding down and playoff positions falling into place, the Albany River Rats looked hungry Wednesday against one of the top teams in the league.
The insatiable hunger for one more goal kept Albany ahead of Atlantic Division-leading Worcester in a 5-3 win at the Times Union Center.
“We talk about it all the time, but you could hear it on the bench, ‘Don’t be satisfied, let’s keep pushing for the next one,’ ” Albany coach Jeff Daniels said. “We have had that habit throughout the year of kind of sitting back when we had a goal lead, instead of pushing for that next one.”
Worcester’s Danny Groulx scored at 4:15 of the third period to pull the Sharks within a goal, but Albany’s Drayson Bowman restored the two-goal cushion at 8:06, then Oskar Osala scored his second goal of the night at 9:57 for a 5-2 lead.
After the 41-21-2-3 Sharks got one back at the 15:27 mark to pull within two goals, they had their chances late to pull closer. With 2:37 left, they pulled goalie Frank Doyle for an extra forward, immediately putting three quick shots on Albany netminder Mike Morrison, who made 37 saves for the 38-24-3-5 River Rats.
Albany forward Steven Goertzen was whistled for holding with 1:20 left, giving Worcester a six-on-four for the remaining time. The Sharks put seven shots on Morrison in those 80 seconds, and he turned each of them aside.
“He’s an experienced guy, he’s done it in the past, and he wants it,” Daniels said. “He’s hungry to get in the net, and he wants to be the guy right now. And he is.”
Offensively, the combo of Osala and Jerome Samson continued to pay off. The two teamed up with Stefan Chaput on the top line. Samson scored once and assisted on three goals. Chaput also added an assist.
Three helpers is a bit of a change for the league-leader in shots on goal (294), but Samson said sometimes it just works out that a teammate has a better look at the net.
“I pick my head up, and once I see a pass and I feel the guy is in a better position than me to get a shot off, I make the pass,” he said.
Worcester 0 1 2 — 3
Albany 1 1 3 — 5
First Period — 1, Albany, Osala 18 (Samson, FitzGerald), 4:59. Penalties — Groulx, Wor (slashing), 17:25.
Second Period — 2, Worcester, Demers 3 (Desjardins, Petrecki), 7:24. 3, Albany, Samson 33 (Dodge), 19:28 (pp). Penalties — Petrecki, Wor (interference), 5:14; FitzGerald, Alb (tripping), 12:21; Osala, Alb (holding), 15:22; Moore, Wor (interference), 17:35.
Third Period — 4, Albany, McNicoll 7 (Samson, Lawson), 2:38. 5, Worcester, Groulx 11 (Joslin, McCarthy), 4:15. 6, Albany, Bowman 17 (Micflikier, Bellemore), 8:06. 7, Albany, Osala 19 (Samson, Chaput), 9:57. 8, Worcester, McCauley 9 (Trevelyan, Demers), 15:27. Penalties — Samson, Alb (high-sticking), 13:18; Goertzen, Alb (holding), 18:40.
Shots on goal — Worcester 7-14-19 — 40. Albany 7-12-10 — 29.
Power-play opportunities — Worcester 0 of 4; Albany 1 of 3.
Goalies — Worcester, Doyle 3-3-1 (29 shots-24 saves); Albany, Morrison, 5-2-1 (40-37).
A — 2,578. T — 2:17.
Referee — Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen — Jim Briggs, Robert St. Lawrence.