With goalie Keith Kinkaid pulled for an extra attacker, the Albany Devils got one goal back, but were unable to get a second one to tie the game in Monday's 5-3 matinee loss to the Syracuse Crunch at the Times Union Center.
Both teams had a player in the penalty box when the Devils initially pulled Kinkaid for a five-on-four, and centerman Jacob Josefson scored from above the left circle to pull within one goal at 4-3 with 1:32 left to play.
“We got some good pressure down in their zone,” Josefson said. “We threw some pucks in there, and I felt like it was close and we'd get one more in there, but their goalie played good, and they played good defense in the end.”
The Devils were able to regain possession and get Kinkaid off the ice with about 54 seconds left in the game, taking a six-on-five into the Syracuse zone. They worked the puck around and had a few passes through the defense for potential scoring chances, but they were unable to tie it up.
“It was really close,” Albany defenseman Alexander Urbom said. “The puck was just bouncing around. It was really close, and if we had a little bit more luck, maybe we would have scored, but we didn't.”
A late turnover ended up on the stick of Brett Connolly, who scored from the top of the circle in his own zone into an empty net at the other end with less than three seconds to play.
Those last couple of minutes saw the Devils carrying as much momentum as they were at any point in the game. They were trailing for much of the time, but in the last minute, the tying goal seemed just a second or two away.
Always a second or two away, though.
The Crunch jumped on Albany with a pair of goals 34 seconds apart midway through the first period. The second was by Tyler Johnson, who also scored the next two Syracuse goals for his first professional hat trick. The effort tied him with Jamie Tardif of Providence for the AHL lead in goals with 26.
“He's a great player, so you can't let him off the hook,” Urbom said. “You've got to stay on him all the time. If you don't, he's going to score.”
“I like the way the kid plays,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “He killed us last year. He can find the net. Even on the play, the last goal, when you're a goalscorer, those go in for you, but I give him credit. Not a smart play by [Joe] Whitney, but he's in position to pick it off and send it the other way.”
A quick series of penalties had the Devils on a four-on-three power play starting at 12:50 in the first, and they set up in the Syracuse zone. Defenseman Eric Gelinas sent a slick pass from the left side across the ice to Josefson in the right circle.
Josefson, who was reassigned by New Jersey a day earlier, was looking at a sure goal, until Syracuse goalie Cedric Desjardins slid across and stretched out his glove hand to snap the puck out of midair.
“What can I say? He made a great save,” Josefson said. “I got a great pass from ‘Gely’. The net was wide open, I got pretty good wood on it, too. He just came up with his glove there, and the puck went right in it.”
Desjardins was playing his first game in a Crunch jersey after coming over in a trade from Hamilton on Feb. 14.
“I was pretty excited when I saw him make that come-across save on Josefson,” Syracuse coach Jon Cooper said. “That is a big-time save, and it was early in the game, but if that goes in . . . we were in a little bit of penalty trouble, and it was four-on-three, they would have stayed on the PP, and you need your goalie to make a big save. He did it. He kept the lead, and then he held on in the end for us.”
The Crunch killed that penalty, but then Albany killed its own off a few seconds later and was on a five-on-four, on which Mike Sislo scored to cut the deficit to one goal.
Johnson re-established the two-goal lead early in the second period, and from then, the Crunch had an answer shortly after each Albany score. Still, the Devils got a better effort than they did five days earlier in a 6-0 loss to Syracuse.
“I thought we went to the net, but to their credit, they make it very hard to go to the net and get pucks through,” Kowalsky said. “I thought we did a better job, but they are a tough team to play catch-up against, because they defend so well.”
Albany is off until Saturday's game at Binghamton.
Syracuse 2 0 3 — 5
Albany 1 0 2 — 3
First Period — 1, Syracuse, Tyrell 3 (Hutchings, Angelidis), 9:40. 2, Syracuse, Johnson 24 (Palat, Cote), 10:14. 3, Albany, Sislo 3 (Zalewski, Urbom), 14:42 (pp). Penalties — Angelidis, Syr (tripping), 3:02; Hutchings, Syr (interference), 11:40; Whitney, Alb (slashing), 12:36; Korobov, Syr (interference), 12:50; Zaleski, Alb (hooking), 16:35.
Second Period — No scoring. Penalties – None.
Third Period — 4, Syracuse, Johnson 25 (Wyman), 3:45. 5, Zalewski 9 (DeSimone, Urbom), 7:26. 6, Syracuse, Johnson 26 (Palat, Korobov), 15:27 (pp). 7, Albany, Josefson 9 (Gelinas, Anderson), 18:28. 8, Syracuse, Connolly 22, 19:57 (en). Penalties — Cote, Syr (elbowing), 8:56; Urbom, Alb (holding), 12:51; Connolly, Syr (roughing), 17:14; Sestito, Alb (roughing), 17:14.
Shots on goal — Syracuse 10-5-10 — 25. Albany 12-6-8 — 26.
Power-play opportunities — Syracuse 1 of 3; Albany 1 of 4.
Goalies — Syracuse, Desjardins 8-13-2 (26 shots-23 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 16-11-5 (24-20).
A — 2,819. T — 2:11.
Referees — David Banfield, Tim Mayer. Linesmen – Fred Hudy, Frank Murphy.