The Albany Devils played 65 minutes Sunday worthy of two standings points, but then fell for a record 12th time in the shootout to come away with only one.
The Devils had the better of the play throughout their loss to the Rochester Americans, leading, 2-0, until the Amerks scored a power-play goal and a short-handed goal in the third to tie it. In the shootout, Rochester scored in the first three rounds, and goalie Matt Hackett stopped Albany's first three shooters to give the Amerks a 3-2 victory.
Albany is now 3-12 in 15 shootouts this season. The 12 shootout losses is an AHL record.
“I think it's definitely in our heads,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “We've used different guys. We've won a couple here in the last maybe five or so. I think it's in guys' heads, I think it's in the goalies' heads. Unfortunately, after giving up the lead in those situations, guys are pretty deflated on the bench. It's unfortunate, because we definitely deserved a better fate. We deserved two points tonight.”
With 71 points, the Devils are four points behind Hershey and Norfolk, which are tied for the
final playoff berth with 75 points. All three teams have six games left to play, and Albany will host Norfolk on April 20.
Four teams have had 11 shootout losses in a season — the New Haven Nighthawks (5-11, 1986-87), the Edmonton Road Runners (4-11, 2004-05), the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (4-11, 2005-06) and the Houston Aeros (5-11, 2011-12).
Albany winger Matt Anderson took the ice for the third round of the shootout, and had his shot stopped by a Hackett pad. Anderson, who is 4-for-12 in the tiebreakers this season, said there has been a mental block for the Devils in shootouts this year.
“Right from the get-go, we were losing games and didn't get off on the right foot. It's definitely a mental thing, it's confidence,” Anderson said. “It's the same thing about tonight, the puck's not going in for us. When you're not consistently banging these pucks in, then you're there for the first time in a little while, you just don't have that extra confidence. We've got to build off tonight, and hopefully, we won't get to another shootout.”
Defenseman Nick Bailen, who was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s leading scorer this season, played in his third game with the Amerks. He recorded no points, but he was used on the power play and said he is adjusting to the pro game.
“I think it was three weeks off the ice, then I had three practices in before I started playing,” Bailen said. “I'm still trying to get my legs back a little bit, being off for three weeks. It kind of takes a toll on your body, especially three games in three nights, it's pretty hard. I'm slowly getting back into it.”
Albany's Reid Boucher scored his third goal of his amateur tryout stint, and Jean-Sebastien Berube scored his first of the season. Albany outshot Rochester, 41-23, and owned a 9-1 shot advantage in overtime.
Defenseman Dan Kelly hit the crossbar in the second period, and David Wohlberg hit the left post on a rebound of Mike Sislo's shot midway through overtime.
The Devils' effort was far better than the previous two nights, in which they were outscored, 8-1. Albany was held to 11 shots on goal Saturday. Anderson said he couldn't explain the difference in the energy level and execution, but hopes the Devils can replicate it in their final six games.
“I wish I could sit here and tell you we did something different, and I wish we could bottle this up and do it every night,” he said. “It's something we're struggling to do. We've got two weeks left, we've got six games, and we've just got to keep putting our best foot forward. We'll just keep working.”
Rochester 0 0 2 0 — 3
Albany 0 1 1 0 — 2
Rochester wins shootout, 3-0
First Period — No scoring. Penalties — Whitney, Alb (high-sticking), 4:07; McCormick, Rch, minor-misconduct (roughing), 10:20; Whitney, Alb (hooking), 17:29.
Second Period — 1, Albany, Boucher 3 (Zalewski, Whitney), 17:02. Penalties — Boucher, Alb, double-minor (high-sticking), 1:02; Crawford, Rch (holding), 4:38; McCormick, Rch (tripping), 13:59.
Third Period — 2, Albany, Berube 1
(D. Zajac, Janssen), 2:54. 4, Rochester, Crawford 5 (Girgensons, Rankin), 8:02 (pp). 4, Rochester, Girgensons 5 (Biega), 15:35 (sh). Penalties — Tropp, Rch, major (fighting), 3:47; Leach, Alb, major (fighting), 3:47; MacKenzie, Rch (roughing), 4:28; Albany bench, served by Berube (too many men), 6:20; Schiestel, Rch (delay of game), 12:34; Legault, Rch, double-minor (high-sticking), 14:27.
Overtime — No scoring. Penalties — None.
Shootout — Rochester 3 (Larsson G, Tropp G, Jacobs G), Albany 0 (Sislo NG, Boucher NG, Anderson NG).
Shots on goal — Rochester 3-7-11-1-1 — 23. Albany 13-10-9-9-0 — 41.
Power-play opportunities — Rochester 1 of 5; Albany 0 of 7.
Goalies — Rochester, Hackett 20-20-3 (41 shots-39 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 20-17-5 (22-20).
A — 2,922. T — 2:13.
Referee — Jamie Koharski. Linesmen – Mike Emanatian, Frank Murphy.