ST. JOHN’S, NL — The question hovering over the Albany Devils practice Thursday at Mile One Centre is how will they respond? After a 1-0 loss during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Devils will try and stave off elimination against the IceCaps during Friday’s 6 pm (ET) contest.
The Devils failed to solve St. John’s netminder Michael Hutchinson, who turned in a 24-save performance for his first career postseason shutout Wednesday. Despite being outshot, 35-24, Albany had chances. Reid Boucher was robbed by Hutchinson’s glove on a redirect midway through the third period and Joe Whitney sent a rolling puck just high of an open net during the closing seconds.
“I thought one of them went in there and I started raising my hands,” said right-winger Mike Sislo. “I thought we put some good pressure on them towards the end and almost got one.”
The roles were reversed during Games 2 and 3. In Albany’s 4-2 win last Saturday, the Devils enjoyed nine power plays. On Wednesday, they found themselves in the box for six IceCaps man advantages.
Albany has won the special teams battle this series. The power play is operating at 26.7 percent, while the penalty kill is at 93.3 percent.
“We moved the puck pretty well,” Sislo said of the power-play unit. “Our entries could be a little bit better, but that’s something if we get the opportunities in the next game, we have to take advantage of it.”
As for the penalty kill…
“We did get into a little bit of penalty trouble, but our PK stepped up and kept us in the game,” Sislo added. “Our PK, along with Keith Kinkaid, has been great all series. Those two things really gave us a chance at the end of the game. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find the back of the net.”
The stakes have never been higher for the Devils, whose season could end Friday. This group finds itself in a must-win situation.
“We are all aware of what’s on the line,” Sislo said. “We are going to come out moving our feet and ready to go — backs-against-the-wall mentality. It will be exciting, but we are prepared for it and we know what we have to do to have success.”
The Devils practice Thursday lasted just less than an hour. The team will skate Friday morning before puck drop in the evening. Fans can watch the game online at ahllive.com.