Though they were playing with only 10 forwards, the Albany Devils drew a fairly even matchup in the depleted Providence Bruins Tuesday night.
The Bruins suited up only 17 skaters, going with 11 forwards and six defensemen. Albany at least had 18 healthy skaters, playing eight defensemen, but the Devils got outworked in a 3-2 loss at the Times Union Center, getting outshot in the third period, 20-6, and surrendering the winning goal with less than five seconds to play.
“Maybe we got what we deserved, or they got what they deserved,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “They outworked us. It’s really that simple. We didn’t play a smart hockey game. We needed more out of a lot of guys tonight, and we didn’t get it.”
The Bruins went up, 1-0, on Cory Kane’s power-play goal in the first period, but Albany got that back with 0.4 seconds left in the second.
With 4.5 seconds left, Darcy Zajac won a faceoff at the right dot, but the puck took its time getting to Reid Boucher, who, from Zajac’s right, had skated behind him to receive it. Boucher fired over the blocker shoulder of goalie Jeremy Smith to tie the game.
“If it was a clean win, I was going to the net, but I saw it was a bit of a tie-up there,” Boucher said. “I went and just sat behind him a bit, and I got it. I couldn’t tell you how much time was left. I didn’t have an internal clock in my head, I was just trying to get it to the net as quick as possible, and it went in.”
Boucher has a seven-game point streak, with six goals and two assists in that time. He has a five-game goal streak.
At 3:46 in the third, though, Andrew Ammon put Providence ahead, 2-1. The Devils were being outshot, 13-1, through the first 12:55 of the third period. They caught a break when Ben Johnson collected the puck at the right boards, spun and fired it in front of the net, and Albany captain Rod Pelley was able to tip it into the net at 14:43 to tie the game.
Despite seeing a squad of 17 play with more energy and composure than their 18, the Devils were approaching the end of the third period in position to earn a standings point by advancing to overtime. Then, on a late rush, Colin Stuart dished to Ethan Werek for a shot from above the left circle to beat Albany goalie Scott Wedgewood with 4.9 seconds remaining.
“You’re sitting there thinking, ‘Well, at least we’ll get a point out of this mess,’ ” Kowalsky said. “It’s karma or the hockey gods or whatever, they come down and spoiled that pretty quick.”
Wedgewood still made a career-high 42 saves. Smith stopped 24 for Providence.
Albany will get one more healthy forward, having recalled Myles Bell from Evansville of the ECHL. Still, unless they get another reassigned from New Jersey, they will likely go into a three-in-three weekend still below the usual 12.
“We’ve just got to execute our game plan,” Pelley said. “We’re going to learn from it. If things stay as they are, we’re going to go into a three-in-three with the same type of lineup, so that’s one thing we have to recognize and go forward.”
Providence 1 0 2 — 3
Albany 0 1 1 — 2
First Period — 1, Providence, Kane 2 (Cross, Smith), 15:23 (pp). Penalties — Breen, Pro (tripping), 2:21; Albany bench, served by Boucher (too many men), 6:28; Ferlin, Pro (interference), 9:56; Flick, Pro (roughing), 6:45; Fraser, Alb, double-minor (cross-checking, roughing), 6:45; Kane, Pro (boarding), 16:57.
Second Period — 2, Albany, Boucher 10 (D. Zajac), 19:59. Penalties — McPherson, Alb (hooking), 7:14; Cross, Pro (high-sticking), 12:13.
Third Period – 3, Providence, Ammon 1 (Warsofsky, Kane), 3:46. 4, Albany, Pelley 3 (Johnson, Janssen), 14:43. 5, Providence, Werek 4 (Stuart, Ferlin), 19:55. Penalties — Werek, Pro (interference), 6:55.
Shots on goal — Providence 14-11-20 — 45. Albany 8-12-6 — 26.
Power-play opportunities — Providence 1 of 3; Albany 0 of 5.
Goalies — Providence, Smith 10-5-2 (26 shots-24 saves). Albany, Wedgewood 5-6-2 (45-42).
A — 2,922. T – 2:14.
Referees — Alex Garon, David Banfield. Linesmen — Steeve Lemay, Frank Murphy.