With one rival rising, the other now hangs onto playoff hopes by the skin of its teeth.
The Adirondack Phantoms beat the Albany Devils, 5-3, Saturday at the Times Union Center to sweep a home-and-home weekend series and move within a point of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The loss leaves the Devils in need of the next miracle on ice.
The Adirondack specialty teams were key, going 2-for-4 on the power play and killing all seven Albany advantages. The Phantoms were able to keep their cool in a few chippy situations, one of them leading to a 5-on-3 power play that yielded their second goal.
“It was a little bit frustrating at times, but we tried to have discipline, and I think it paid off for us,” Adirondack coach Joe Paterson said. “You look at the final score — and we took some abuse — and they took some bad penalties. Not a very disciplined team.”
The Devils will be eliminated if they lose one of their three remaining games, or if Manchester, Portland or Adirondack win once more.
Albany rookie Joe Whitney was whistled for slashing with just under 51 seconds left in the first period. At the horn, Tim Sestito laid a hit on Adirondack’s Tye McGinn, drawing a charging major and game misconduct call that sent him to the dressing room and the Phantoms on a 1:10 5-on-3 to start the second period.
The Devils were dealt a blow 26 seconds into the second period when Brad Mills seemed to give Albany a 2-1 lead, but the goal was disallowed.
Mills skated shorthanded up the ice against Adirondack defenseman Erik Gustafsson, sending a shot off goalie Michael Leighton’s facemask, knocking his helmet loose on his head. The puck went behind the net, where Mills regained possession and skated it back around to the front. As he skated it around, Leighton nodded his head and sent his loose mask to the ice before Mills wrapped the puck around him and into the net.
Referee Jamie Koharski was ready to allow the goal until he was overruled by one of the linesmen.
“The linesman told him the helmet was off when Mills was still behind the net, which is clearly not the case,” Albany coach Rick Kowalksy said. “Mills was in the process of wrapping it around, and Leighton threw his helmet off. The Boston Bruins got scored against last year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Tim Thomas had no mask on. He [Koharski] made the right call and was overruled by his linesman.”
Rule 9.5 states if a goalie loses his mask and the opposing team has possession, play can only be stopped if there is “no immediate and impending scoring opportunity.” It says the stoppage must be made by the referee. It also says if the goalie removes his hat deliberately, he will be whistled for delay of game.
Twenty seconds after the disallowed goal, Adirondack’s Matt Ford’s second of three goals in the game gave the Phantoms a 2-1 lead.
Still, Albany fought back, drawing even on Whitney’s first of two goals in the game. Then Adirondack’s Dan Jancevski rifled a shot from the left boards tht Rob Bordson deflected past goalie Jeff Frazee for a 3-2 lead. Ford got his hat trick, a back-breaker for the Devils, on a giveaway by Frazee midway through the final period.
Kowalsky was disappointed at his team’s inability to score more often, but Whitney had to give the nod to Leighton, who finished with 37 saves.
“He made a lot of good saves,” Whitney said. “He robs Tedenby, he made some other big saves. If we capitalize on those, it’s a different game. But there’s no quit in the room.”
Adirondack 1 2 2 — 5
Albany 1 1 0 — 2
First Period — 1, Adirondack, Ford 27 (Hamel), 14:47 (pp). 2, Albany, Zalewski 19 (Tedenby), 17:49. Penalties — McGinn, Adk (slashing), 4:09; Lauridsen, Adk (roughing), 6:53; Hoeffel, Alb (roughing), 6:53; Lauridsen, ADK (roughing), 10:51; Zajac, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:11; Brown, Adk (high-sticking), 15:50; Zharkov, Alb (slashing), 15:50; Eddy, Adk (slashing), 15:54; Sestito, Alb (slashing), 15:54; Leighton, Adk, served by McGinn (slashing), 17:49; Whitney, Alb (slashing), 19:09; Sestito, Alb, major-game misconduct (charging), 20:00.
Second Period — 3, Adirondack, Ford 28 (Akeson, Hamel), :46 (pp). 4, Albany, Whitney 14 (Kelly, Zharkov), 14:38. 5, Adirondack, Bordson 3 (Jancevski, Manning), 19:27. Penalties — Roe, Adk (slashing), 3:36; Jancevski, Adk (roughing), 4:25; Eddy, Adk, major (fighting), 13:05; Mills, Alb, major (fighting), 13:05; Gustafsson, Adk (tripping), 17:41; Perkovich, Alb (goaltender interference), 17:51.
Third Period — 6, Adirondack, Ford 29, 9:53. 7, Albany, Whitney 15 (Gelinas), 19:51. 8, Adirondack, Testwuide 11, 19:56. Penalties — Harper, Adk (slashing), 3:43.
Shots on goal — Adirondack, 8-9-4 — 21. Albany 8-17-15 — 40.
Power-play opportunities — Adirondack 2 of 4; Albany 0 of 7.
Goalies — Adirondack, Leighton 27-24-1 (40 shots-37 saves). Albany, Frazee 11-19-2 (20-15).
A — 4,731. T — 2:21.
Referee — Jamie Koharski. Linesmen — Robert St. Lawrence, Frank Murphy.