Even before he’s received his etched crystal award for being last week’s AHL player of the week, Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid began his campaign for another one.
For the second time in six days, the Union College product shut out the Hartford Wolf Pack, making 24 saves in a 3-0 Albany win Wednesday at the Times Union Center.
He had, and has had over the last week or so, quite a bit of help as the Devils played well in front of him, helping with rebound control and keeping screens from setting up in front of him.
“They’re playing tremendous,” Kinkaid said of his teammates. “It’s a credit to them. It’s a team win. I just hope we can keep this up consistently all year.”
“Sometimes, there’s breakdowns,” defenseman Brandon Burlon said, “but he’s been there to bail us out when those do happen, and we’ll just try to keep them to a minimum. If he keeps playing like that and we keep doing what we’ve been doing, everything will be all right from here on out.”
Kinkaid has won his last six starts, matching the franchise record.
The Devils have won five of their last six games, starting with a 6-5 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in which Kinkaid made 28 saves and was pressured all night.
“You know what? Streaks are strange, and you take them whenever you can get them,” Burlon said. “To have it start in a 6-5 game against a really good team in Wilkes-Barre does a lot for your confidence. We’ll take it where we can get it.
“That game, as a D corps, we noticed we weren’t being as tough as we could in front of the net. It was something we addressed the next day at the morning skate and in video. We definitely made a note about that, and it’s been a big part of our success, so far, keeping guys away from Keith even when there are pucks lying there, and
getting them [pucks] into the corners.”
The Devils got on the board at 5:19 in the second period when the Wolf Pack turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Stefan Matteau ended up with it, skating in on the left side. He fired the puck past Hartford goalie Scott Stajcer on the glove side.
At 11:17 of the second, Reid Boucher finished a rush at the backdoor after a slick cross-ice pass by Mike Sislo. Burlon provided the final dagger at 1:03 of the third on a power play, tucking in a rebound of a Joe Whitney shot.
Kinkaid is 7-1-1 on the season with a league-best 1.75 goals-against average and a save percentage of .930.
“My confidence is pretty up there,” Kinkaid said. “I think the whole team’s confidence is up there. We’re playing good hockey. [Goaltenders coach] Dave Caruso is keeping me honest in practice, that’s a credit to him.”
Though goalie Scott Wedgewood has not played since Nov. 9, Albany coach Rick Kowalsky could make no commitment to getting him a start this weekend. He told both goalies at the start of the season, if one of them got a hot hand, the Devils would ride that momentum as long as they could.
“We want to keep winning,” he said. “I know we want to develop here, but I told both guys at the beginning of the year, if there’s an opportunity … He’s winning games, we’re playing well in front of him and it’ll still be a day-to-day thing, but obviously, he’s pretty comfortable in there, right now.”
Hartford 0 0 0 — 0
Albany 0 2 1 — 3
First Period – None. Penalties – O’Donnell, Har (interference), 14:53.
Second Period – 1, Albany, Matteau 2 (Sestito, Whitney), 5:19. 2, Albany, Boucher 6 (Sislo, K.Zajac), 11:17. Penalties – Yogan, Har (roughing), 11:40; Sestito, Alb (roughing), 11:40; Hrabarenka, Alb (roughing), 11:40; Scarlett, Alb (slashing), 14:05; Jean, Har (hooking), 15:39.
Third Period – 3, Albany, Burlon 1 (Whitney, Boucher), 1:03 (pp). Penalties – O’Donnell, Har (high-sticking), :23; Mashinter, Har (holding), 4:53; Wohlberg, Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:53; O’Donnell, Har, major (fighting), 12:16; Hrabarenka, Alb, major (fighting), 12:16.
Shots on goal – Hartford 6-7-11 – 24. Albany 10-10-5 – 25.
Power-play opportunities – Hartford 0 of 2; Albany 1 of 3.
Goalies – Hartford, Stajcer 2-2-0 (25 shots-22 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 7-1-1 (24-24).
A – 2:20. T – 2,187.
Referees – Geno Binda, Ryan Hersey. Linesmen – Frank Murphy, Francis Trempe.