Smelling blood in the water, the Albany Devils jumped out to a five-goal lead Monday in a 5-3 win over the Adirondack Phantoms.
A three-goal outburst spanning just 2:09 in the second period gave the Devils a 5-0 lead.
“I thought we did a good job through two periods where we got pressure on them and sensed that we had momentum,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “Recently, we haven’t done a good job of grabbing it and staying on top of teams. I thought, today, we did a good job of it and got rewarded for it, which is the biggest thing.”
It started with Jacob Josefson’s goal at 5:02. Mike Sislo and Vladimir Zharkov had tried stuffing the puck past goalie Michael Leighton at the right post, to no avail. The puck bounced out along the goal line toward the right corner, where Josefson collected it and beat Leighton top-shelf at the hard angle.
Less than a minute later, Tim Sestito beat Leighton on a rush, having been broken out by a pass from Nathan Perkovich. Then, Brad Mills scored on a rush at 7:11, finishing after a timely pass from Nick Perkovich.
“Once we scored that third one, I think they started to open up a bit,” Mills said. “They started to take some chances, and we were able to capitalize on some turnovers and some odd-man rushes the other way.”
“They stayed up at the blue line, especially on the rush,” Adirondack coach Joe Paterson said. “We weren’t able to get a lot of pucks in behind them, for whatever reason. We hit them, sometimes, and then they countered quick on us with their speed. They played a pretty good game in that area, at their blue line. I remember a couple times, too, when we had chances when we’re trying to rush the puck and they’re right in our face and we turn it over, or we chip it in to them and then they go back the other way, and we end up having to chase them again. They were quick on their counters today.”
The Phantoms got one back at 11:45 off a Garrett Roe faceoff on the right side. Jason Akeson ended up with the puck and got off his shot from the boards, a seeing-eye shot through traffic that beat Jeff Frazee.
Frazee, though, made 32 saves and was solid despite the comeback. The second Phantoms’ goal was on a power-play rebound off to his left and behind him, the third on a shorthanded rush.
“He was aggressive,” Kowalsky said. “Again, his game, when he’s out challenging and on top of the crease and really challenging the shooter, that’s when he’s at his best.”
“You tend to work on it in practice, and when Jacques [Caron, New Jersey special assignment coach] came down, he helped me bear down, mentally, in practice and focus on that type of thing in practice,” Frazee said. “So it’s paying off.”
The Devils began building their lead in the first period on Perkovich’s power-play goal. He took the pass in the slot and was unrushed getting off a low shot between Leighton’s pads. Matt Anderson doubled the lead on a shorthanded rush, two-on-one with Stephane Veilleux.
The win draws the Devils even with the Phantoms (42 points) and just two points behind division-leader Connecticut. On a six-game point streak, Albany will host Norfolk Wednesday, then will renew its Northway rivalry with Adirondack in Glens Falls on Friday.
“The divisional games are enormous,” Mills said. “You look at the standings, and our way into the playoffs might wind up being first place in our division because the conference is so competitive.”
Adirondack 0 1 2 — 3
Albany 2 3 0 — 5
First Period — 1, Albany, Perkovich 6 (Sislo, Gelinas), 4:09 (pp). 2, Albany, Anderson 7 (Harrold), 16:06 (sh). Penalties — Harper, Adk (boarding), 2:38; Sestito, Adk (interference), 13:35; Josefson, Alb (tripping), 15:19.
Second Period — 3, Albany, Josefson 1 (Zharkov, Sislo), 5:02. 4, Albany, Sestito 3 (Perkovich), 5:56. 5, Albany, Mills 2 (Palmieri, Wiseman), 7:11. 6, Adirondack, Akeson 10 (Roe), 11:45. Penalties — Eddy, Adk, major (fighting), 12:23; Zajac, Alb, major (fighting), 12:23; Urbom, Alb (hooking), 14:55; Holmstrom, Adk (tripping), 16:36.
Third Period — 7, Adirondack, Roe 5 (Manning, Akeson), 3:31 (pp). 8, Adirondack, Wellwood 9 (Holmstrom), 8:07 (sh). Penalties — Whitney, Alb (tripping), 2:04; Kalinski, Adk (hooking), 7:42; Holmstrom, Adk (slashing), 8:54; Marshall, Adk, major (fighting), 12:01; Sestito, Alb, major (fighting), 12:01; Gelinas, Alb (boarding), 14:46.
Shots on goal — Adirondack 12-13-10 — 35. Albany 8-12-6 — 26.
Power-play opportunities — Adirondack 1 of 4; Albany 1 of 5.
Goalies — Adirondack, Leighton 14-13-0 (17 shots-13 saves); Bacashihua (5:56 second, 9-8). Albany, Frazee 7-8-2 (35-32).
A — 3,119. T — 2:14.
Referees — Frank Charron, T.J. Luxmore. Linesmen — Mike Emanatian, Frank Murphy.