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River Rats open AHL playoffs with shutout win

River Rats open AHL playoffs with shutout win

The Albany River Rats opened the AHL playoffs with a 4-0 win, but could face suspensions

They opened the Calder Cup playoffs with a big win Wednesday night, but the Albany River Rats won’t know until today whether they suffered a big loss, as well.

Albany got goals from four different players and 39 saves from goaltender Mike Leighton in a

4-0 blanking of Philadelphia at the Times Union Center to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

The Phantoms, who were not shut out in 80 regular-season games, host Games 2 and 3 Friday and Sunday.

Bryan Rodney had a goal and two assists, and Cohoes native Marc Cav­osie and rookie Jerome Samson added a goal and an assist apiece for the Rats, who took control by scoring twice on successive shots in a span of 1:51 late in the second period.

“We told the guys, you have to take advantage of the opportun­ities you get, because they’ve got too many guys on the other side that can bury you,” Albany head coach-GM Tom Rowe said.

“Tonight, it went our way, but it’s only one game. There’s still a long way to go.”

Things got ugly with 28.7 seconds remaining, when new Rats defenseman David Cornacchia dumped the puck in at center ice and turned to go to the bench, only to be drilled from behind by Phantoms forward Triston Grant.

The play touched off a melee at center ice near the two benches that resulted in 52 penalty minutes and the ejections of Albany’s Tim Conboy and Trevor Gillies.

Referee Chris Cozzan whistled Conboy under rule 70.6 for returning to the ice from the bench, while Gillies was penalized under rule 47.15 for being a third man in. Both could be facing suspensions.

AHL vice president Jim Mill, who is in charge of ruling on those matters, was at the game, and met with Rowe and assistant coach Geordie Kinnear briefly afterward. A dec­ision is expected today.

“I hope so,” Rowe said. “He’s going to look at it tonight, and let us know. I’ve got a feeling they’re going to want to move pretty quick. You’re always nervous until you get the final call.”

After Grant and Cornacchia sep­arated, Grant was grabbing at Conboy from behind until he was intercepted by Albany rookie Ryan Weston. Meanwhile, Conboy unloaded several right hands on the Phantoms’ Darroll Powe, and Gillies was at the bottom of a pile along with Philadelphia’s Rory Fitzpatrick.

“They play hard to the end, so we’ve just got to be ready for that,” Conboy said. “They’re a hard-nosed team, so you just expect anything. I never came off the bench, if that’s what they’re saying. I don’t know what’s going on. I guess they’ll find out on the video.”

Phantoms head coach Craig Berube and assistant Ulf Samuelsson were unavailable for comment.

Albany’s Jakub Petruzalek stepped out of the penalty box and into a perfect Mike Angelidis pass to beat Philadelphia goalie Scott Munroe between the pads on a breakaway 7:20 into the game.

Samson was credited for a power-play goal at 17:40 of the second when his shot from the left circle glanced in off the skate of Phantoms defenseman Nate Guenin. Rodney followed at 18:57, picking up Nicolas Blanchard’s centering pass in the slot and scoring.

Philadelphia 0 0 0 — 0

Albany 1 2 1 — 4

First period — 1, Albany, Petruzalek 1 (Angelidis, Rodney), 7:20. Penalties — Matsumoto, Phi (holding), 1:44; Petruzalek, Alb (tripping), 5:14; Jensen, Alb (hooking), 9:07.

Second period — 2, .Albany, Samson 1 (Cavosie, Rodney), 17:46 (pp). 3, Albany, Rodney 1 (Blanchard, Angelidis), 18:57. Penalties — Grant, Phi (interference), 5:53; Conboy, Alb (roughing), 5:53; Sutter, Alb (slashing), 6:40; Matsumoto, Phi (slashing), 12:45; Nodl, Phi (high-sticking), 16:01.

Third period — 4, Albany, Cavosie 1 (Samson, Carson), 3:12 (pp). Penalties — Potulny, Phi (elbowing), 2:00; Conboy, Alb (roughing), 4:54; Gillies, Alb (tripping), 9:11; Conboy, Alb (high-sticking), 9:18; Philadelphia, bench (too many men, served by Ruzicka), 14:19; Grant, Phi minor-major (cross-checking, fighting), 19:31; Fitzpatrick, Phi major (fighting), 19:31; Cabana, Phi major (fighting), 19:31; Conboy, Alb major-game misconduct (fighting, leaving bench), 19:31; Gillies, Alb major-game misconduct (fighting, third man in), 19:31; Weston, Alb major (fighting), 19:31; Anderson, Phi (roughing), 19:53; Blanchard, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:53.

Shots on goal — Philadelphia 18-5-16 — 39. Albany 7-10-8 — 25.

Goalies — Philadelphia, Munroe 0-1 (25 shots-21 saves). Albany, Leighton 1-0

(39-39).

Power-play opportunities — Philadelphia 0 of 6. Albany 2 of 6.

A — 1,826. T — 2:31.

Referee — Chris Cozzan. Linesmen — Frank Murphy, Rich Patry.

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