Rinkside Roundup starts in Philadelphia where the parent clubs of the Albany Devils and Adirondack Phantoms met up for the second time in three days. Two first period tallies were all the Flyers would need as they once again beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1.
Other local action the former parent club of the old Capital District Islanders, the New York Islanders bounced back nicely to top the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in OT. Milan Hejduk’s second goal of the game with just four seconds left in the third sent the game to an extra session. During OT the Isles John Tavares notched his 14th of the year for the winner.
Second period goals by Derek Stefan and Sean Avery along with 24 saves by Martin Biron, enabled the New York Rangers to add to their NHL leading 15th road win 2-1 over the St. Louis Blues. Brandon Dubinsky registered two helpers on the night as well.
In Washington, former Albany River Rats netminder Scott Clemmensen stopped 24 of 27 for Florida but the Capitals held off the Panthers 3-2.
With under a minute to play in the third, former Albany River Rat and current Montreal Canadiens Captain Brian Gionta rallied the Habs back from a 2-0 second period deficit to send the game against the Boston Bruins to OT with his 15th on the year. In OT Max Pacioretty netted the winner as Montreal completed the comeback 3-2.
Another OT contest saw the Buffalo Sabres edge the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1. Drew Stafford posted his 14th of the year to win it and Ryan Miller recorded 33 saves to make it stand up for Buffalo.
Around the “A”
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.
One night after posting two goals including the winner against Syracuse, Erik Condra’s marker early in the third was the difference as the Binghamton Senators edged the Rochester Americans 2-1.
In Springfield a five goal outburst in the first led to a 7-3 victory for the Falcons over the Charlotte Checkers. Former Rats of note for Springy, Ben Guite had two assists while Steven Goertzen added a helper. Former Rats of note for Charlotte, Chris Terry and Michal Jordan had goals, Jacob Micflicker posted two assists, Cedric McNicoll and Matt Pistilli registered assists as well.
Former Albany River Rats fan favorite and defenseman Bryan Helmer was finally picked up by a team this season and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Helmer recorded two secondary assists on his former Hershey Bears’ teammate Alexander Giroux’s two goals on the night, however the Peoria Rivermen rallied and defeated the Oklahoma City Barons in OT 5-4.
Out in Manitoba former River Rats defenseman Mark Flood registered two helpers for the Moose in their 4-3 OT win over the Hershey Bears.
Finally out west despite a 2-0 lead in the second, the Adirondack Phantoms fell in a shootout to the Abbotsford Heat 3-2. Former Rat Michael Ryan tallied his ninth of the year on the power-play to get the Phantoms on the board. Mike Testwuide picked up his second of the season for Adirondack as well. Johan Backlund made 28 stops. The Phantoms didn’t score in the shootout.