With a power play winding down, Adirondack’s Jason Akeson sent the puck across the zone to Shane Harper on the right side.
Harper fired back toward the right post, but Albany Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid had already slid over and was waiting to snap the puck out of the air with his glove.
It was that kind of night Saturday for the former Union College netminder. In front of a franchise-record 8,194 fans at the Times Union Center, Kinkaid was on his game with 30 saves in a 3-0 shutout of Albany’s Northway rival. When he needed help in his third career blanking, he got it from a determined Devils’ squad.
“They were doing a good job blocking shots,” Kinkaid said. “I thought it was one of our best blocked-shot nights. If I left a bad rebound, they’d clear it away right away so there were no second chances. It was a good night, overall.”
It was the Phantoms’ seventh straight road loss, their fifth overall and sixth in Albany.
The save on Harper’s shot came at 18:55 in the second period and both coaches, when asked about Kinkaid’s play in general, gravitated to that moment.
Kinkaid, though, instantly thought of his good fortune as the Phantoms played with an extra attacker in the final two minutes.
“When they had the goalie pulled, they had a couple good chances, a couple deflections that just hit my pads,” he said. “Sometimes you get the breaks, sometimes you don’t. Tonight was one of those nights that I got them.”
He got all the goal support he needed at 6:00 of the second period. Harper had the puck in the left corner behind the Albany goal, turned and sent a pass across the slot either looking for a teammate skating in or a defenseman on the opposite side.
Instead, the puck found Chad Wiseman, who was off to the races on a rush, then dropped the puck to the point for Tim Sestito, who fired it past goalie Jason Bacashihua for a 1-0 lead.
“I don’t know if Killer [coach Rick Kowalsky] is going to like it on video, because I think we were cheating a little bit,” Sestito said. “We didn’t get back well enough. But Wise went going, I saw we had a three-on-two, and I just got on my horse. I yelled pretty loud for it, so I was glad he gave it to me. I knew I had a guy right behind me, I knew I had to get it off quick, so it was a shot where you just hit it as hard as you can and hope you hit the net. It hit the back of the net, so I’ll take it.”
The Phantoms outshot Albany, 30-20. However, even with Sestito and Wiseman slow to get back on that play, the defense-first approach prevented Adirondack from seeing too many high-quality chances.
“Any time you get a shutout — Kinkaid played a great game, but you have to give credit to the whole team,” Wiseman said. “Our D played great today. I know they outshot us, but I don’t think they outchanced us, by any means.”
“I thought it was a tight-checking games by both teams,” Kowalsky said. “It had — I don’t want to say playoff feel — but there were definitely not a lot of great chances. We’ve been frustrated a little bit here, as I’m sure they have. But we just talked about sticking with it and being patient, and we did a good job of it.”
Adirondack 0 0 0 — 0
Albany 0 1 2 — 3
First Period — No scoring. Penalties — Bernier, Alb (delay of game), 4:20; Manning, Adk (hooking), 15:48.
Second Period — 1, Albany, Sestito 4 (Wiseman, Kinkaid), 6:00. Penalties — Zalewski, Alb (boarding), 8:04; Banwell, Alb (charging), 17:04; Roe, Adk (holding), 19:41; Marshall, Adk (roughing), 20:00; Whitney, Alb (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period — 2, Albany, Harrold 2 (Veilleux, Zalewski), 15:04. 3, Josefson 2 (Wiseman, Gionta), 19:46 (en). Penalties — Brown, Adk (roughing), 10:00; Zajac, Alb (roughing), 10:00; Urbom, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:00; Sestito, Adk (cross-checking), 10:44; Zalewski, Alb (roughing), 11:24; Sestito, Adk, double-minor (roughing), 19:46.
Shots on goal — Adirondack 7-12-11 — 30. Albany 5-10-5 — 20.
Power-play opportunities — Adirondack 0 of 5; Albany 0 of 4.
Goalies — Adirondack, Bacashihua 7-6-1 (19 shots-17 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 11-11-1 (30-30).
A — 8,194. T — 2:14.
Referee — Chris Brown. Linesmen — Frank Murphy, Marty Demers.