Devils vs. Springfield: Devils get more help

Injuries and recalls took two men off the Albany Devils’ second line this week, but they just plugge

Injuries and recalls took two men off the Albany Devils’ second line this week, but they just plugged in two more and watched them spark a comeback win Wednesday.

With centerman Kelly Zajac out with an upper-body injury and left wing Reid Boucher up with New Jersey, Albany coach Rick Kowalsky gave rookie Graham Black the nod at center and Stefan Matteau — who just returned from an injury — the look at left wing, with Mike Sislo remaining on the right side.

Black scored his first two professional goals, Matteau earned an assist on Sislo’s fifth goal in four games and the Devils climbed out of an early 2-0 hole to beat last year’s Northeast Division champion Springfield Falcons, 4-2.

“Sis and Stef are unbelievable players,” Black said. “You couldn’t ask for much better linemates than that.”

Black’s first goal came at 14:51 in the first period and cut a two-goal deficit in half. From just in front of the crease, he flipped the puck over Springfield goalie Oscar Dansk’s shoulder. It landed behind him in the crease before bouncing over the line.

“It was kind of scrambly, and the puck popped out to me in the slot. I had all the graces tonight, and I just kind of flipped it over his shoulder,” Black said. “I didn’t really see much of it after that, I just heard it went in and guys started coming toward me. That’s all I remember from my first pro goal.”

At 10:28 in the third period, Black slipped a power-play goal over the line just before the goal was hit from behind, causing the back of the net to come off the ice. After surviving a video review, it gave Albany its 4-2 lead.

It was the second Albany goal, though, that gave the Devils some much-needed momentum at 10:52 in the second period. Trailing, 2-1, Raman Hrabarenka took a shot from the right point that was saved, then Matteau made an attempt from the slot on the rebound, but Dansk was up to that challenge. The rebound of Matteau’s shot came right to Sislo on the right side, though, and he slid it behind the netminder before he could recover.

“[The Falcons] were winning battles, they were getting to pucks quicker. They were just harder in all areas than we were,” Kowalsky said. “There was a commercial timeout, and I just talked about, ‘We need to support the puck, we need to help each other out. We need to have more white jerseys in those battles than we do blue.’

“Black, Matteau and Sislo are just scrapping in front. They lose possession, they get it back, it was just ugly. Sislo bangs in the rebound, and that’s what we needed. We needed an ugly, gritty goal, and I thought that gave us a bit of life, definitely, in the second period.”

“Those goals aren’t pretty, but they get the team fired up,” Matteau said. “It was just a hard-working goal, and Sis was in the right spot at the right time.”

Ryan Craig had both goals for Springfield (3-4-1-0) in the first 7:02 of the game. Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid was unbeatable the rest of the way, and finished with 30 saves for the 6-0-0-1 Devils.

“We kind of refocused our energy,” Black said. “We knew we would come back in this game. No one was panicking. We knew we just had to settle things down and play our game.”

Springfield 2 0 0 – 2

Albany 1 2 1 – 4

First Period — 1, Springfield, Craig 4 (Monardo), 1:10. 2, Springfield, Craig 5 (Tynan), 7:02 (pp). 3, Albany, Black 1 (McPherson, Matteau), 14:51. Penalties — D. Zajac, Alb (tripping), 6:12; Thomson, Alb (boarding), 10:09; Springfield bench, served by Tynan (too many men), 15:33; Anderson, Spr (hooking), 19:30.

Second Period — 4, Albany, Sislo 5 (Matteau, Hrabarenka), 10:52. 5, Albany, Timmins 4 (Thompson), 19:23. Penalties — D’Amigo, Spr (holding the stick), 5:52; Sedlak, Spr (slashing), 19:34.

Third Period — 6, Albany, Black 2 (Bernier), 10:28 (pp). Penalties — Thomson, Alb (closing hand on the puck), 3:29; Sestito, Alb (slashing), 4:56; Sifers, Spr (interference), 9:08; McPherson, Alb (tripping), 12:40.

Shots on goal — Springfield 8-10-14 — 32. Albany 6-8-3 — 17.

Power-play opportunities — Springfield 1 of 5; Albany 1 of 5.

Goalies — Springfield, Dansk 1-2-1 (17 shots-13 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 4-0-1 (32-30).

A — 1,689. T — 2:21.

Referees — Tom Chmielewski, Darcy Burchell. Linesmen — Rich Patry, Francis Trempe.

Categories: Sports

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