Rest is overrated.
Just under 17 hours after stepping off the ice in Glens Falls, the Albany Devils took it to the Adirondack Phantoms in the first period of Saturday afternoon’s 5-2 win, scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes.
The win came in front of an announced 10,218 fans, the largest attendance for an AHL game in Albany since Feb. 27, 1999, when the River Rats drew 13,146.
“Definitely, the first period was great energy by us,” said Albany’s Finnish rookie Harri Pesonen. “We didn’t give them anything, but we didn’t kill them completely, so we had to battle the next two periods.”
Through the next two periods, the Phantoms showed signs of intent that were not there in the first. They were skating better and cutting down on their turnovers, and meanwhile, the Devils began to show signs of the last week and a half wearing on them.
Albany took its team to Newark on Jan. 16 to scrimmage its parent club, New Jersey, before playing a three-in-three over the weekend. Then the Devils played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week.
Rest, maybe, is not overrated.
“I didn’t think either team played well tonight, but I did think we took advantage of their poor start,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I thought the first period was probably our best, and after that, we kind of just let them hang around. It was kind of like we were just getting through the game. That insurance goal by Pesonen was big. But we’ll take the win. Two points is two points, right?”
Pesonen scored the second and fourth goals for Albany, getting his first on a rebound of a Brandon Burlon one-timer from the point and his second after Adirondack’s Jason Akeson — while on a penalty kill — turned the puck over behind his own goal to Phil DeSimone. DeSimone got it to Pesonen at the right edge of the crease, where he stuffed it in past goalie Scott Munroe.
“He has a tendency in those games where he has the puck a lot, he can protect it,” Kowalsky said. “Sometimes, it seems like he has it a lot because he has the tendency to bring it back, which I don’t care for. But he’s a strong guy, he’s strong on the puck, and both those goals are the goals I like to see from him, because he can get in behind the defenders.
“One, he picks up a rebound, he’s strong on his feet with a guy on him, and the second one, he just jams it to the net. We need to see more of that out of him. The more he plays that North-South instead of that — which they probably played a lot of in Finland — that East-West stuff, he’s going to be fine because he can skate, and he’s strong.”
Both goals came, as did others Saturday, from the Devils crashing the net.
“I think we did a good job [Friday] at Adirondack, and we kept doing the same thing today,” Pesonen said. “It’s hard to defend when you take shots and guys go to the rebounds and try to bury it. The last two days, we did a good job on that.”
The Devils got on the board at 4:02 in the first when Joe Whitney skated the puck into the zone and around the back of the net, then sent the pass out to Eric Gelinas at the left point. Gelinas sent in a low shot that was deflected by Steve Zalewski over Munroe’s shoulder.
“It was kind of a flipper puck, it was on edge when I shot it,” Gelinas said. “It stayed low, thank God, and it managed its way through.”
Whitney has five goals and three assists in his six games against the Phantoms.
Munroe stopped just 14 of the 18 shots he faced. Albany got a short-handed empty-netter in the closing seconds, thanks to the hustle of Tim Sestito and Darcy Zajac, Zajac tucking it in from the crease.
Albany’s Keith Kinkaid stopped 26 of 28 shots, allowing just two power-play goals from Marcel Noebels and Danny Syvret.
Those goals, though, couldn’t help the Phantoms out of their first-period hole.
“I think we managed the puck pretty well [early], and I think that probably got them to step back a little bit,” Gelinas said. “We were cycling the puck well, we got the puck deep, so I think that really helped for the first period.”
Adirondack 0 1 1 — 2
Albany 3 0 2 — 5
First Period – 1, Albany, Zalewski 7 (Gelinas, Whitney), 4:02. 2, Albany, Pesonen 8 (Burlon, DeSimone), 10:55. 3, Albany, Butler 16 (Sestito, Gelinas), 14:30. Penalties – Kelly, Alb (roughing), 1:14; Manning, Adk (interference), 5:35; Akeson, Adk (closing hand on puck), 12:58; Zolnierczyk, Adk (roughing),13:43; Burlon, Alb (roughing), 13:43; Whitney, Alb (holding), 13:43.
Second Period – 4, Adirondack, Noebels 5 (Akeson, Syvret), 12:11 (pp). Penalties – Gelinas, Alb (interference), 2:18; Ford, Adk (interference), 4:16; Whitney, Alb (high-sticking), 4:43; Leach, Alb (interference), 11:49; Noebels, Adk (tripping), 19:37.
Third Period – 5, Albany, Pesonen 9 (DeSimone), 4:07 (pp). 6, Adirondack, Syvret 3 (Laliberte, Manning), 6:10 (pp). 7, Albany, D. Zajac 5 (Sestito), 19:47 (en,sh). Penalties – Zolnierczyk, Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:54; Burlon, Alb (kneeing), 4:30; Urbom, Alb (holding), 12:06; Laliberte, Adk (tripping), 16:01; Leach, Alb (tripping), 19:27.
Shots on goal – Adirondack 6-10-12 – 28. Albany 9-5-5 – 19.
Power-play opportunities – Adirondack 2 of 8; Albany 1 of 6.
Goalies – Adirondack, Munroe 9-10-0 (18 shots-14 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 14-8-4 (28-26).
A – 10,218. T – 2:16.
Referees – David Banfield, Ryan Fraser. Linesmen – Derek Wahl, Frank Murphy.