They found a goalie. Mike McKenna was absolutely phenominal, standing on his head prompting fans to stand and applaud as the Albany Devils brought home win number one of the New Year 2-1 over the Syracuse Crunch. For the home fans who have seen their team get healthier and come so close of late at their home rink could finally breathe a sigh of relief with the hope that this club can finally use this game as a building block going forward.
It was another hard fought contest by the Devils and a Louis Robitaille scrap got them even more revved up midway through the first.
Streaking in on a two-on-one Matt Anderson hit Adam Henrique in stride, putting Albany out front 1-0. The goal for Henrique was his ninth of the season.
Early in the second Eric Lampe lit the lamp for the Crunch, corralling a loose puck to knot the game at 1-1. The second also saw Brad Mills rearrange Kyle Palmieri’s face and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond go after Josh Green. Green was lucky Leblond didn’t catch up with him later. Speaking of penalties the Devils were a perfect seven for seven on the penalty kill.
In the early going of the final stanza Devils and former Crunch keeper Mike McKenna stood his ground by standing on his head. On his back with pads stacked in the air, McKenna was able to deny Syracuse with a couple of brilliant saves to rally Albany. McKenna turned away 23 shots on the night. Shortly thereafter Matt Anderson broke through the Crunch defense and ripped a lazer into the back of the cage for the eventual winner. Anderson’s 13th came from the man he set up, Henrique and Jacob Josefson recorded a secondary assist to boot.
From there the Devils were able to put the game on lockdown and skate away with the 2-1 victory, their first of the year and first at home in 2011. As a result of the win Albany jumps over Adirondack in the Empire State Cup standings. Overall the Albany Devils improve to 14-20-0-3 (31 points). Albany is eleven points behind the Worcester Sharks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Coincedentally the Devils next contest comes against the Sharks as Albany visits Worcester on Tuesday night. Perhaps some of the Lowell contingent can help cheer them on.
One final note, while he played very well once again, unfortunately Michael Swift’s point streak ends at ten.