His first celebration, midway through overtime, proved to be short-lived. The second one was not.
Former RPI captain Kirk MacDonald broke a scoreless tie with 10:38 left in overtime to lift the Albany River Rats past the Philadelphia Phantoms, 1-0, in Game 6
of their first-round playoff series Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.
MacDonald beat Phantoms goaltender Scott Munroe on a wrist shot in the upper left corner for his first goal of the playoffs, tying the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and forcing Game 7 to be played here Tuesday night.
Recalled from the ECHL just before the series began, MacDonald was a healthy scratch in Albany’s 3-2 five-overtime loss in Game 5 that ended at 12:39 am. on Friday after 142:58 — the longest game in AHL history.
He thought he had the game won on his previous shift, skating around Phantoms defenseman
Michael Ratchuk in the right circle and behind the net for a wraparound at the left post.
Defense partner Rory Fitzpatrick blocked the open net, and Munroe was able to scramble back and stop Jamie Johnson on the rebound as MacDonald quickly raised and lowered his arms, uncertain if it was a goal.
“I probably should have tried to cut in front and go to my backhand,” MacDonald said, “but the goalie came out a little bit, and I thought I had it. I did really, just their d-man did a good job of putting his stick down on the goal line to keep it out.
“We deserved it tonight. We had a lot of chances, it finally got one.”
The goal ended a drought of 176:22 for Albany going back to Kiel McLeod’s second of the playoffs at 17:14 of the second period in Game 5.
“I felt like I had more jump than I normally do, but I don’t know if that was because guys were more fatigued from the other night or not,” MacDonald said. “It might have helped, I don’t know. I guess it did, I scored the winner.”
In fact, MacDonald was the only lineup change from Game 5 for
Albany head coach-GM Tom Rowe, taking the place of rookie Ben Cottreau.
“It definitely worked,” Rowe said. “Mac was on the puck all night making really good plays. It was an easy decision to go with him. He could have had a couple tonight. He’s a gamer. That’s kind of why we signed him, because he comes up with big plays in big games.”
Albany’s Michael Leighton continued his MVP-caliber play, becoming the first goalie in franchise history to post two playoff shutouts, stopping 40 shots after a 98-save performance in Game 5. He faced 10 in overtime, the first coming just 70 seconds in on Ryan Potulny, the Game 5 hero for Philadelphia.
“We’ve had guys contribute all year. That’s been our team,” Leighton said. “Mac’s worked hard all year. He had a great season down in Florida, and he comes up and scores a huge goal for us. I can’t say enough about him.”
Albany outshot the Phantoms, 35-30, through a scoreless regulation. Philadelphia thought it had a goal after Leighton stopped Darroll Powe’s breakaway 4:42 into the third period and was pushed into the net with the puck underneath him.
The Rats were also forced to kill off a two-man disadvantage for 33 seconds with 6:18 left in the third, Leighton stopping the only two shots he faced.
“We had some chances, but you’ve really got to dig in in those areas,” Phantoms head coach Craig Berube said. “You need second and third chances in front of the net.
“I thought we had a lot of shots blocked and tipped and missed the net . . . but that’s tiredness, too. You’re tired and your brain’s not working as good, and you don’t react as quick. That’s the way it goes. There was no effort problem or lack of competing, that’s for sure. I thought that was there all game.”
Albany 0 0 0 1 — 1
Philadelphia 0 0 0 0 — 0
First period — None. Penalties — Angelidis, Alb (goalie interference), 12:50; Kane, Phi (slashing), 18:59.
Second period — None. Penalties — Fitzpatrick, Phi (hooking), 3:03; Andereson, Phi (hooking), 9:59; Petruzalek, Alb (interference), 11:09; Bellemore, Alb (interference), 14:08; Kalinski, Phi (goalie interference), 17:37.
Third period — None. Penalties — Anderson, Phi (tripping), 7:34; McLeod, Alb (tripping), 12:25; Carson, Alb (holding), 13:42.
Overtime — 1, Albany, MacDonald 1 (Rodney, Blanchard), 10:38. Penalties — Kane, Phi major-game misconduct (cross-checking), 10:38.
Shots on goal — Albany 12-12-11-6 — 41. Philadelphia 12-6-12-10 — 40.
Goalies — Albany, Leighton 3-3 (40 shots-40 saves). Philadelphia, Munroe 3-3 (41-40).
Power-play opportunities — Albany 0 of 5. Philadelphia 0 of 5.
A — 4,224. T — 2:47.
Referee — Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen — Mike McDevitt, Paul Carnathan.