Monday afternoon’s game unraveled quickly for Albany in the third period, but the Devils were able to collect themselves in time to collect one bittersweet point.
The Norfolk Admirals scored three goals in the first 3:11 of the third period for a two-goal lead, but Albany came back to tie it, eventually losing to the Admirals, 5-4, in a shootout. The Devils were outgunned, 2-1, in the shootout, losing in the fifth round.
“It’s a huge point for us, no doubt, but we didn’t play a smart hockey game,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “We had a game plan and wanted to take the play to them. We know they’ve been struggling and have played a lot of hockey recently.”
The Admirals entered with two wins in their last six games and riding a three-game losing streak. Monday also was the end of a three-in-three for Norfolk.
Luca Caputi put the Admirals ahead, 1-0, when his pass caromed off Albany defenseman Alexander Urbom’s stick and past goalie Jeff Frazee. Then, the Devils got a similar break, when Steve Zalewski sent a pass to Chad Wiseman, who was credited with the goal although the puck seemed to bounce in off the skate of Norfolk defenseman Ryan Parent.
Tim Sestito put the Devils in front, 2-1, in the second on a nice top-shelf backhander.
Then, 32 seconds into the third, Peter Holland was allowed to set up in front of the net as possession was contested behind the Albany goal. Devante Smith-Pelly sent it out to him, and he beat Frazee with a one-timer.
“The mistakes, with that guy standing out front, Holland on the first shift, that’s just a no-brainer,” Kowalsky said. “You’ve got veteran guys out there. You can’t make those mistakes.”
The Devils then took two penalties in the same breath, setting up Norfolk with a five-on-three for two full minutes. The Admirals connected twice, both goals scored by Kyle Palmieri.
Albany drew even with Matt Anderson’s shorthanded stuff at the left post and Adam Larsson’s laser from the right point to force overtime.
In the shootout, Joe Whitney put Albany ahead in the third round with a backhanded shot into the top of the net, mimicking Sestito’s goal. Holland answered immediately, though, and Patrick Maroon netted the winner in the final round.
The Devils feel they let another point get away from them, but Larsson said the late charge by what has been a snakebitten Albany team in the attacking zone is evidence of what the Devils can be at their best.
“I think that shows what kind of team we are and how we can play,” he said. “We got ourselves together back there. I thought we played pretty good most of the game, but we can’t let those guys score that many goals, especially in the third. When we have the lead, we have to close the game.”
Norfolk 1 0 3 0 1 — 5
Albany 1 1 2 0 0 — 4
Norfolk won shootout, 2-1
First Period — 1, Norfolk, Caputi 1 (Lasch), 13:27. 2, Albany, Wiseman 2 (Zalewski, Urbom), 15:25. Penalties — Whitney, Alb (hooking), 4:08; Sestito, Alb (tripping), 4:55; Wiseman, Alb (slashing), 9:46; Holland, Nor (hooking), 10:00; McMillan, Nor (high-sticking), 19:40.
Second Period — 3, Albany, Sestito 1 (Zalewski, Burlon), 8:24. Penalties — Henrique, Alb (cross-checking), 4:02; Bodie, Nor (hooking), 6:50; Pesonen, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:31.
Third Period — 4, Norfolk, Holland 6 (Smith-Pelly), :32. 5, Norfolk, Palmieri 5 (Vatanen, Holland), 2:12 (pp). 6, Norfolk, Palmieri 6 (Caputi, Vatanen), 3:11 (pp). 7, Albany, Anderson 3 (Josefson), 12:43 (sh). 8, Albany, Larsson 1 (Urbom, Wiseman), 16:33. Penalties — Leach, Alb (hooking), 2:08; Josefson, Alb (roughing), 2:08; Sestito, Alb, minor-misconduct (elbowing), 12:24; Klotz, Nor (roughing), 16:28; Henrique, Alb (roughing), 16:28.
Overtime — No scoring. Penalties — Henrique, Alb (goaltender interference), 3:57.
Shootout — Norfolk 2 (Palmieri NG, Caputi NG, Holland G, Lasch NG, Maroon G). Albany 1 (Anderson NG, Butler NG, Whitney G, Josefson NG, Larsson NG).
Shots on goal — Norfolk 10-14-6-5-1 — 36. Albany 13-12-13-5-0 — 43.
Power-play opportunities — Norfolk 2 of 9; Albany 0 of 3.
Goalies — Norfolk, Andersen 3-2-0 (43 shots-39 saves). Albany, Frazee 2-1-1 (35-31).
A – 2,638. T – 2:32.
Referees — Jean Hebert, T.J. Luxmore. Linesmen – John Gradnt, Kiel Murchison.