With a trio of power-play goals, Albany regained the momentum in its series against St. John’s Saturday.
The Devils scored three goals with the man advantage and killed off a couple of third-period penalties to secure a 4-2 win in Game 2 of their first-round Calder Cup Playoffs series with St. John’s, pulling even with the IceCaps in the best-of-five series, 1-1.
“This time of year, it’s just about taking advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said.
The Devils head to St. John’s for Wednesday’s Game 3 and Friday’s Game 4, with a possible Game 5 on Saturday.
Centerman Kelly Zajac set up a pair of the man-advantage goals, including the eventual game-winner from Mattias Tedenby. Zajac won a faceoff at the left dot just outside the offensive zone, stepped behind his counterpart from St. John’s and sent the puck to the right circle, where Tedenby was waiting.
“I gave Teddy a heads-up before,” Zajac said. “I saw that their D man were so far back. It was a power play, so it was five-on-four, I just pushed it forward and it worked out. All their guys went forward except for that D man because he was so far back. I just made an easy play over to Teddy, and he put it in.”
Keith Kinkaid got his bounce-back win thanks to 20 saves in the third period, several during a key five-on-three penalty kill.
“He got better as the game went on, and when we really needed him, he rose to the challenge,” Kowalsky said. “In that third period, he was unbelievable.”
“I just wanted to keep the lead for the boys,” Kinkaid said. “We did a great job not creating second chances. I just tried to make the saves when I could.”
The Devils are now 4-for-11 on the power play in this series and have killed off seven of eight penalties of their own.
St. John’s scored first as Brenden Kichton got out on a rush halfway through the first period. Kinkaid made the first save, but the rebound went off the skate of Albany defenseman Jon Merrill and back past the netminder.
Just 59 seconds later, though, Reid Boucher drew the Devils even when he intercepted a pass from St. John’s defenseman John Morrissey from behind the net and fired the puck past goalie Michael Hutchinson.
Albany took its first lead of the series on Stefan Matteau’s power-play goal at 16:56, fed from the corner by Zajac. Kichton, though, tied it up at 5:11 in the second on a power-play breakaway.
Tedenby’s goal gave Albany the lead for good at 8:08 in the second, and Scott Timmins deflected a Mike Sislo shot on another power play at 10:01 in the third for a little insurance.
The Devils have to win two of three in a building that has sold out every game since the Winnipeg Jets affiliate moved to St. John’s. Albany got a preview of playing in front of a big crowd, though, as 8,026 were in attendance at the Times Union Center on Saturday. Another 6,572 came out Friday.
“I think the fans did a great job here,” Zajac said. “It was awesome to see all the people come out. Going up there, we’ve got the momentum right now, I think. Guys are feeling good. It starts Monday in practice again. We’ll get right to it.”
St. John’s 1 1 0 — 2
Albany 2 1 1 — 4
First Period – 1, St. John’s, Kichton 1 (Albert, Jaffray), 10:10. 2, Albany, Boucher 1, 11:09. 3, Albany, Matteau 1 (K.Zajac, Tedenby), 16:56 (pp). Penalties – Gordon, StJ (charging), 6:30; Riley, StJ (slashing9p8), 16:10; Cormier, StJ (charging), 17:22.
Second Period – 4, St. John’s, Kichton 2 (Redmond, Hutchinson), 5:11 (pp). 5, Albany, Tedenby 1 (K.Zajac), 8:08 (pp). Penalties – McKelvie, Alb (goaltender interference), 3:38; Jaffray, StJ (tripping), 6:29; Sestito, Alb (tripping), 10:25; Gordon, StJ (slashing), 12:39; Riley, StJ (slashing), 13:59; MacKinnon, StJ (boarding), 16:42.
Third Period – 6, Albany, Timmins 1 (Sislo), 10:01 (pp). Penalties – Sestito, Alb (holding), :49; Chiarot, StJ (high-sticking), 7:43; Fredheim, StJ (slashing), 9:01; Merrill, Alb (hooking), 11:14; McPherson, Alb (roughing), 11:50.
Shots on goal – St. John’s 9-3-20 – 32. Albany 17-12-5 – 34.
Power-play opportunities – St. John’s 1 of 4; Albany 3 of 9.
Goalies – St. John’s, Hutchinson 1-1 (34 shots-30 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 1-1 (32-30).
A – 8,026. T – 2:33.
Referee – Terry Koharski, Keith Kaval. Linesmen – Mike Emanatian, Frank Murphy.