Rinkside Roundup starts of course with the main course from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the first time the game was played in prime time but it didn’t turn out as well as the last time for the Penguins. A crowd of 68,000 saw the Washington Capitals take home the prize by a count of 3-1.
The first period didn’t see any scoring though there was a scrap that involved former Albany River Rats forward Michael Rupp of the Penguins and John Erskine of the Capitals. It looked as though Rupp was getting the best of the battle early on but Erskine rebounded and eventually made Rupp say uncle.
The top scorer for Pittsburgh and the top Russian for Washington didn’t score, but early in the second the top Russian scorer for the Pens broke the seal on a breakaway for the game’s first tally and his 14th on the year. However shortly after it was former Adirondack Red Wing Mike Knuble stuffing home a loose puck in front on the power-play for the Caps and his ninth of the year.
Later in the second a loose puck behind the net resulted in a turnover, which resulted in Eric Fehr’s sixth goal of the season and a 2-1 Caps lead. Fehr also broke through the Pittsburgh defense midway through the third to give Washington an insurance goal and to put the game on ice.
In other NHL action former Albany River Rats forward Zac Dalpe’s first career NHL goal was good enough to give the Carolina Hurricanes the win in a 6-3 rout of the New Jersey Devils. Dalpe’s goal capped off an outburst that saw the Canes jump out front to a four goal lead in the first. Former Rats defenseman Jamie McBain also notched helpers in the first, his ninth and tenth respectively.
Rod Pelley broke through for the Devils first goal in the first and was assisted by former Albany Devils defensemen Matt Corrente and Anssi Salmela.
Then less than a minute into the second a combo of former River Rats led to New Jersey’s second goal on the night. Patrik Elias drove a shot off defenseman Tim Gleason which Travis Zajac corralled and backhanded past Cam Ward for his sixth on the season.
Down 5-2 early in the third Elias slapped his eighth goal of the season past Ward to make it a 5-3 contest. Corrente added his second helper of the night on the Elias score. However 2011 didn’t look too much different from 2010 for New Jersey in their defeat to Carolina in Raleigh.
Drew Stafford’s second hat-trick of the season against the Boston Bruins led the charge as the Buffalo Sabres stampeded back for a wild 7-6 shootout victory. With less than a minute to go in regulation Stafford flipped his 13th of the year over a sprawling Tim Thomas to send the contest into OT.
In other bookkeeping notes from this game, former Rats defenseman Johnny Boychuk registered his seventh assist for the B’s and forward Cody McCormick got into a scrap for Buffalo.
Down in Tampa another game of local note the New York Rangers fell to the Lightning just 19 seconds into OT as Nate Thompson went streaking in for his sixth of the season. Marian Gaborik’s eleventh marker was the lone goal for the Blueshirts in their 2-1 loss.
Around the “A” from Glens Falls 2011 started much the way 2010 did with the Adirondack Phantoms defeating the Albany Devils 2-1. In the oddly named “Time Warner Cable Cup” (oddly named because none of the games are ever actually shown on Time Warner Cable) is now tied at two games apiece on the season with eight more contests to go.
The heated contest saw three fights, including a Dan Kelly TKO of Marc-Andre Bourdon in the first.
Albany got the scoring underway less than a minute into the second on a power-play goal from Michael Swift. The goal for Swift was his eleventh and extended his point streak to seven straight games. Approximately five minutes later it was former Albany River Rats All-Star Michael Ryan helping get the Phantoms on the board with his fourth of the year.
Late in the third Adirondack’s Greg Moore scored his fourth goal in as many games and the Phantoms held on for the one goal win.
The two clubs will meet again in short order this Wednesday in Albany.
In Springfield former River Rat Ben Guite added an insurance goal (his fifth) for the Falcons in their 3-1 victory over the Manchester Monarchs.
Finally in another Empire State Cup match-up the Syracuse Crunch paced by two goals from former Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans forward Nathan Paetsch was good enough to knock off the Amerks 4-1 in Rochester. The Crunch also out-shot the Amerks 42-19.