A big third-period penalty kill followed by a seized opportunity on the power play turned Wednesday’s game around for the Albany Devils.
Albany trailed East Division leader Binghamton, 1-0, entering the third period, then had to kill off 1:41 of a five-on-three after an interference call on Reid Boucher was compounded by a boarding call on Adam Larsson at 1:13.
The Devils killed off the penalty, then at 12:54 drew even on Boucher’s wrister power-play tally. They maintained their momentum through the game-winning breakaway goal by Mike Sislo at 17:17, then held on to beat the Senators, 2-1.
“I thought we looked a little bit sluggish through two [periods],” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I thought we got a little better each period, though. We just talked about taking advantage of a single mid-week game and emptying the tanks. Specialty teams were key tonight, and we certainly got a boost off that big kill.”
The top-scoring team in the AHL with 225 goals entering the contest, Binghamton went ahead, 1-0, on Matt Puempel’s power-play goal at 15:54 of the second, ending Albany goalie Scott Wedgewood’s shutout streak at 162:44.
When Binghamton’s Wacey Hamilton was sent to the box for tripping at 12:11, Boucher said the Devils knew it was time to find the equalizer.
“Especially late in the game like that, we knew we had to bear down and be desperate on that power play,” Boucher said. “We did a great job of battling for pucks and one squirted out to me, and I was able to put it in.”
From just below the right faceoff dot, the rookie winger fired past the blocker shoulder of goalie Andrew Hammond, into the top corner of the net.
The Devils controlled the game for the next five minutes and finally took the lead when captain Rod Pelley got the puck up the boards to Harri Pesonen, who sent a breakout pass ahead for Sislo to skate onto. The speedy forward split Binghamton defensemen Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Mullen and beat them to the puck, then skated in to beat Hammond for the game-winner.
“We’ve seen that time and time again,” Kowalsky said of Sislo’s speed. “He didn’t use it until the third, but that’s all that mattered.”
“I knew that middle D there, if I could get past him, then I would have a good look on the goalie,” Sislo said. “He reached out, but I was able to get around him.”
Albany will play at Syracuse on Saturday and host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Sunday.
The Devils finish this three-game homestand with six points, having outscored opponents, 7-1.
“As a team, we’ve improved a lot in our defensive zone,” Sislo said. “A five-man unit playing in front of the goalie, trying to limit the shots. And our goalies have been playing unbelievable lately, keeping the puck out of the net. So I think the goalies are a huge reason, but I think the five-man unit in front of them, we’ve been playing more aggressive and better.”
Binghamton 0 1 0 — 1
Albany 0 0 2 — 2
First Period — None. Penalties — Hamilton, Bng (hooking), 2:20; Pesonen, Alb (slashing), 5:44; Larsson, Alb (high-sticking), 11:34.
Second Period — 1, Binghamton, Puempel 24 (Stone, Da Costa), 15:54 (pp). Penalties — Pelley, Alb (cross-checking), 7:42; Hrabarenka, Alb (hooking), 14:51; Robinson, Bng (slashing), 16:02.
Third Period — 2, Albany, Boucher 17 (Timmins, Sislo), 12:54 (pp). 3, Albany, Sislo 22 (Pesonen), 17:17. Penalties — Boucher, Alb (interference), :54; Larsson, Alb (boarding), 1:13; Hamilton, Bng (tripping), 12:11; Dziurzynski, Bng (interference), 18:09.
Shots on goal — Binghamton 9-2-8 — 19. Albany 8-9-11 — 28.
Power-play opportunities — Binghamton 1 of 6; Albany 1 of 4.
Goalies — Binghamton, Hammond 20-15-3 (28 shots-26 saves). Albany, Wedgewood 12-12-3 (19-18).
A — 2,187. T — 2:06.
Referees — David Banfield, Jean-Philippe Sylvain. Linesmen — Mike Emanation, Francis Trempe.