Given the depths they reached in Friday’s loss to Syracuse and Saturday’s opponent, it was almost a given that the Albany River Rats would come back 24 hours later with a better showing.
Albany did, indeed, raise its game, but not high enough to get by East Division-leading Philadelphia.
The Phantoms scored three times in the second period for a
4-2 win at the Times Union Center, spoiling goaltender John Grahame’s debut in a Rats’ uniform.
Sent down by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in favor of
Michael Leighton, Grahame stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced.
It was the first AHL action for Grahame since May 12, 2001, when he played for Providence in Game 5
of the Eastern Conference finals against eventual Calder Cup champion Saint John.
Grahame got into Saturday’s game early, needing to make a blocker save on Philadelphia center Peter Zingoni on the opening shift, 18 seconds in.
“They had a couple chances, and I was able to get over and make some saves, which actually, mentally,
really got me into the game, as well as physically,” Grahame said. “Some of the goals were mistakes that I can’t make, and they showed up on the scoreboard.”
The most glaring miscue came midway through the second period, when Grahame went behind the goal to play the puck and had it stripped away by Darrell Powe, who centered to Frederik Cabana for an empty-net goal that made it 2-0.
“That’s a thing we went over before the game,” Rats head coach-GM Tom Rowe said. “We know John likes to handle the puck and our ‘D’ is supposed to come back to the front of the net first and then flare out to the corner, and our ‘D’ went right to the corner. If they’re in front, at least we get a halfway decent chance of eliminating that goal.
“[Grahame] was fine. I’m sure he’d want that one back, but he hasn’t played in a week and we do things a little differently here than Carolina does. Goalies have to get used to the systems, too. I like having him here, that’s for sure.”
After falling into a 3-0 hole, Albany (20-17-0-2) got goals from Yannick Tifu at 14:23 and Bobby Hughes off a nifty pass from Jerome Samson at 18:54 to make it a 3-2 game.
The Phantoms needed less than 12 seconds to answer. On the ensuing shift, Ryan Potulny was alone between several defenders to score his 10th goal with 53.5 seconds remaining.
“Anytime you get a goal you’ve got to build off it,” alternate captain Jamie Johnson said. “We haven’t really been doing that. We get a goal and then we kind of sit back. Any goal for or against, the next shift’s the biggest shift. We’ve got to start taking pride in that.
“The effort was definitely better. It’s still not great, not a full 60 minutes, that’s for sure. The work ethic’s there, we’re just not working smart. Guys are pretty tired; we’ve just got to stick with our system a little bit better.”
With Keith Aucoin in Carolina, D Tim Conboy and RW Pat Dwyer join Johnson as alternate captains. . . .
D Mark Flood had a three-game point streak snapped (2-1-3). . . . LW Joel Rechlicz has had a fight in each of the four games he’s played this season. . . . The Rats play next at Manchester on Wednesday. . . .
Former RPI All-American Neil Little, goaltending coach for Philadelphia, attended the game. . . . Dean Morton, a defenseman on the Adirondack Red Wings 1989 Calder Cup title team, refereed for the second straight night.
Philadelphia 1 3 0 — 4
Albany 0 2 0 — 2
First period — 1, Philadelphia, Cabana 4 (Grant, Anderson), 11:03. Penalties — Rechlicz, Alb (holding), 2:54; Boulerice, Phi maj0r (fighting), 10:09; Rechlicz, Alb major (fighting), 10:09; Matsumoto, Phi (hooking), 12:18; Grant, Phi (roughing), 13:36; Guenin, Phi (interference), 15:49.
Second period — 2, Philadelphia, Cabana 5 (Powe), 10:15. 3, Philadelphia, Beaulieu 2 (Gauthier, Bartulis), 12:28. 4, Albany, Tifu 2 (Forrest, Johnson), 14:23.5, Albany, Hughes 7 (Samson, Babin), 18:54. 6, Philadelphia, Potulny 10 (Zingoni, Ross), 19:06. Penalties — Mormina, Alb (interference), :24; Potulny, Phi (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:32; Flood, Alb (cross-checking), 1:32; Beaulieu, Phi major (fighting), 15:29; Blanchard, Alb major (fighting), 15:29; Anderson, Phi (tripping), 16:48.
Third period — None. Penalties — Bartulis, Phi (high-sticking), 5:31; Zingoni, Phi (tripping), 9:14.
Shots on goal — Philadelphia 10-13-6 — 29. Albany 11-8-10 — 29.
Goalies — Philadelphia, Boucher 15-9 (29 shots-27 saves). Albany, Grahame 0-1 (29-25).
Power-play opportunities — Philadelphia 0 of 2. Albany 0 of 6.
A — 4,288. T — 2:14.
Referee — Dean Morton. Linesmen — Steeve Lemay, Jim Harper.