David Wohlberg has proven to be a great fit on his new line.
The 2008 sixth-round New Jersey draft pick signed an amateur tryout contract after finishing his collegiate career with Michigan. He scored his first career goal Friday in his second professional game, netting the winner in Albany’s 4-3 win over Providence.
Wohlberg has been skating on the “hard-work” line with Brad Mills and captain Stephen Gionta. The term kept popping up after the game when talking about any of the line’s components.
“Just hard work,” Gionta said of what makes Wohlberg fit so well. “He takes care of the puck at the blue lines. He’s a really smart player. He works hard, goes to the net, forechecks hard, finishes his checks. He’s been a great compliment to our team.”
The win didn’t advance the Devils from their 11th-place station in the Eastern Conference standings, but it moved them within two points of eighth-place Manchester, which was idle. Albany will host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight at 7.
Wohlberg missed a chance to net his first goal a little earlier when he lost the handle on a penalty shot at 12:43 in the first period, but he made up for it with a high strike at 4:35 in the third on a two-on-one with Mills against Providence’s Colby Cohen for a 4-2 lead.
Gionta scored the go-ahead goal with a bit of tenacity during some four-on-four action at 1:48 in the third, his fifth of the season and 60th of his AHL career. He skated toward the crease from the right corner and shot, tracking down his own rebound in front of the Bruins’ net and putting it past goalie Anton Khudobin for a 3-2 lead.
“It definitely gives you the momentum for the rest of the period. We were playing with the lead instead of from behind, like we have the last few games,” Gionta said. “The guys responded well. I thought it was a good team effort tonight. We’ve got to get another one tomorrow.”
Wohlberg said his new linemates and their style of play has created instant chemistry for him.
“Millsy and Gionta are doing a great job of showing me the way,” Wohlberg said. “My first game here, it was kind of different. Now I feel like I’m part of the team and just trying to help out.
“I think we did a great job when we were down in the corners. We do a good job of talking, and we know where each other are on the ice. That definitely helps a lot.”
The Devils also got goals from Kory Nagy (his career-high third of the season) and Dan Kelly (his second of the season and fourth of his career). Rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid made 35 saves in the win. Two assists from rookie Eric Gelinas pushed his point streak to five games.
Providence remains in 12th place in the conference, now two points behind Albany. The two will meet again in Albany on April 14 in the next-to-last game of the season.
Providence 1 1 1 — 3
Albany 1 1 2 — 4
First Period — 1, Providence, Sauve 8 (Arniel, MacDonald), 1:28 (pp). 2, Albany, Nagy 3 (Urbom, McPherson), 15:25. Penalties — Mills, Alb (slashing), :40; Cohen, Pro (hooking), 12:43; Robins, Pro (roughing), 17:06; Mills, Alb (goaltender interference), 19:10.
Second Period — 3, Providence, Sauve 9 (Arniel, Miller), 16:30. 4, Albany, Kelly 2 (Gelinas, Zalewski), 17:06. Penalties — Miller, Pro (boarding), 7:12; Arniel, Pro (tripping), 9:20; Zharkov, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:20; Kelly, Alb (tripping), 11:10; Sauve, Pro (roughing), 20:00; Kelly, Alb (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period — 5, Albany, Gionta 5 (Anderson, Gelinas), 1:48. 6, Albany, Wohlberg 1 (Mills, Gionta), 4:35. 7, Providence, Cunningham 19 (Camper), 18:57. Penalties — Bodnarchuk, Pro (roughing), 5:09; Anderson, Alb (high-sticking), 5:09.
Shots on goal — Providence 12-9-17 — 38. Albany 11-12-9 — 32.
Missed penalty shot — Wohlberg, Alb, 12:43 first.
Power-play opportunities — Providence 1 of 4; Albany 0 of 3.
Goalies — Providence, Khudobin 21-18-3 (32 shots-28 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 17-17-3 (38-35).
A — 4,235. T — 2:22.
Referee — Jean Hebert. Linesmen — Rich Patry, Robert St. Lawrence.