ALBANY, NY – Amazing how seven months of hockey come down to just five games. The task at hand for the Albany Devils is to remain in the top eight in the Eastern Conference between now and the regular season conclusion on April 19.
After earning one point during last week’s three-in-three road trip, the team returns to Times Union Center for games against Bridgeport Friday (7 pm), against Providence Saturday (5 pm) and against Syracuse Sunday (5 pm).
“The schedule sets up nice for us,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously, we didn’t have the weekend we wanted to or get the results we wanted to last weekend. This is a huge three games. We’re not looking past Friday night, but the opportunity to sleep in our own beds and be in our own building where we’ve had success this year is certainly a positive.”
Albany owns a .717 winning percentage at Times Union Center this season, going 20-7-2-1 and outscoring opponents 95-68.
The Devils, who have 83 points with a 35-23-5-8 record, can move up in the conference. They are five points behind fifth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (88 pts.) and three points behind sixth-place Providence (86 pts.). Additionally, Albany is one point ahead of eighth-place Hershey (82 pts.) and two points ahead of ninth-place Norfolk (81 pts.). Both the Bears and the Admirals have a game in hand on the Devils.
“We know what’s at stake,” said center Darcy Zajac. “I’ve been here for four years now and, obviously, we haven’t been in this situation before, this time of the year. We’re excited and the guys know what’s on the line and I think we had a great practice today. Everyone’s coming ready to play on Friday.”
With Syracuse and Bridgeport in 12th and 13th place, respectively, Saturday is setting up to be the highest-stakes game of the weekend. The Bruins climbed ahead of the Devils last weekend and are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games.
Regardless, the Devils focus remains not only on just the next game, but the next shift and the next period.
“You just have to keep your focus small and basically your first shift,” Kowalsky said. “Do everything you can this week to prepare for that first shift, first period on Friday and just move on from there. You kind of create that situation where you’re not looking to the next game. You focus on the details, control what you can control. Right now we’re getting ready for that first game and that first period.”
The Devils resume practice Thursday morning at Times Union Center. Around the Eastern Conference Wednesday, Hartford, Manchester, St. John’s and Worcester are all in action, but none of the games have an immediate impact on the Devils positioning.
What 2 Watch 4
|Four of the Albany Devils last five regular-season games will take place in downtown Albany, including three this weekend. The Devils, who are 20-7-2-1 at Times Union Center, host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday at 7 pm, the Providence Bruins Saturday at 5 pm and the Syracuse Crunch Sunday at 5 pm.|
|Entering the week, the Devils are in seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with 83 points. They are five points behind fifth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (88 pts.) and three points behind sixth-place Providence (86 pts.). Additionally, Albany is one point ahead of eighth-place Hershey (82 pts.) and two points ahead of ninth-place Norfolk (81 pts.). Both the Bears and the Admirals have a game in hand on the Devils.|
|The Devils magic number to secure a spot in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoff is 10. That point total can be achieved with a combination of Devils wins or losses by the team in ninth place.|
|Promotions this weekend include the final “SEFCU College Night” of the season with $10 tickets for college students on Friday. The Devils salute the armed forces with “Military Appreciation Day” Saturday. All active and retired service members will receive free admission to the game by showing proper identification at the Times Union Center box office.|
|Anyone who cannot make it to Times Union Center can follow the action online or on mobile devices at ahllive.com. Additionally, fans are encouraged to use the twitter hashtag #AlbBri Friday, #AlbPro Saturday and #AlbSyr Sunday.|
GLENS FALLS, NY — Despite unloading a season-high 53 shots, the Albany Devils lost against the Adirondack Phantoms, 4-3, Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The game marked the final meeting between these Northway rivals. The Phantoms are set to relocate to Allentown, PA for the 2014-15 season.
In four season, Albany and Adirondack matched up 46 times and the Devils posted a 23-17-4-2 record, including a 6-5-1-0 mark this season.
Rivalry aside, the Devils are in the middle of a battle to finish within the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings. They currently sit in seventh with a 35-23-5-8 record (83 pts.). The Phantoms are 15th with a 27-36-1-6 mark (61 pts.).
For the game, Rod Pelley, Reece Scarlett and Scott Timmins each scored. Scott Wedgewood, who was involved in a collision during the opening minutes, only played the first period. He made five saves on seven shots. Keith Kinkaid stepped in in the second period and made 23 saves on 25 shots.
The Phantoms led 2-1 after the first period. Akeson opened the scoring at 5:19, but Pelley responded with his 13th goal of the season at 12:33. In the closing minutes, Akeson scored a shorthanded goal, setup by Straka, at 17:33.
Akeson completed his hat trick with a power-play goal at 15:17 of the same period.
Timmins brought the Devils back within one with the games fourth-straight power play goal.
The Devils had their opportunities late. Most notably, two Phantoms penalties and with Kinkaid on the bench gave Albany a six-on-three advantage during the final 21 seconds.
The club’s 53 shots were the most since Feb. 15, 2009 against Portland (50).
The Devils begin a three-game home stand Friday with a 7 pm outing against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The game marks the final SEFCU College Night with $10 tickets for students who present a college ID at the Times Union Center Box Office.
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After a 1-0 overtime loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last night, the Devils will try and rebound with a 3 pm outing at Adirondack Sunday. The Devils have moved to seventh-place in the Eastern Conference standings and are a point behind sixth-place Providence, two points ahead of eighth-place Norfolk and three points ahead of ninth-place Hershey.
Sunday’s game at Glens Falls Civic Center marks the final contest between the Devils and the “Adirondack” Phantoms, who are set to relocate to Allentown, PA for the 2014-15 season. Since the Devils move from Lowell, MA to the Capital Region, the two teams have faced off 45 times and Albany owns a 23-16-4-2 record.
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Devils vs. Adirondack Series
The Devils are 27-22-6-4 all-time against the Phantoms, including a 17-7-3-3 home mark and a 10-15-3-1 road record. Sunday’s meeting will be the final contest between the Northway Rivals. The Phantoms are set to relocate to Allentown, PA for the start of the 2014-15 season.
Last time out, Keith Kinkiad made 30 saves, helping the Devils to a 4-2 win at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Feb. 21. Mike Sislo registered a pair of goals and Adam Larsson had two assists. Stefan Matteau and Rod Pelley also scored.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — The goal judges at Mohegan Sun Arena could have very well taken the Saturday night off. The Albany Devils and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton escaped regulation without lighting the lamp, but Nick Drazenovic ended the scoreless tie 1:02 into overtime to give the Penguins a 1-0 victory.
Entering the game, the seventh-place Devils trailed the fifth-place Penguins by four points. That total is now five with just six games remaining in the regular season. Albany goes to 35-22-5-8, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improves to 40-22-3-5.
Drazenovic’s winner came after a Devils turnover deep inside their defensive end. Tom Kostopoulos sent a centering pass to Drazenovic in the slop for a one-timer. The initial shot was stopped by Keith Kinkaid, but the Penguins center followed up with a backhanded attempt into the upper third of the net.
Kinkaid made 16 saves during regulation and one in overtime. At the other end, Peter Mannino, who had 25 stops, was perfect for the second straight game, helping the Penguins to their fourth consecutive victory.
The Devils return to their home state for a 3 pm outing against the Adirondack Phantoms. The game marks the final showdown between the Devils and the Phantoms at Glens Falls Civic Center. The Northway rivalry ends because the Phantoms are relocating to Allentown, PA for the 2014-15 season. Fans can follow the action online or on mobile devices at ahllive.com.
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The Devils lost some ground to the Penguins after Friday’s games. Albany lost at Syracuse, 2-1, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shut out Bridgeport, 3-0. The seventh-place Devils are four points behind the fifth-place Penguins with just seven games remaining. The two teams meet Saturday at 7:05 pm.
Albany will try and keep its power-play rolling. Its man-up unit has seven goals in the last eight games, operating at 20.1 percent for the season.
Players To Watch
Devils vs. Penguins Series
Saturday’s outing will be the 26th meeting all-time between the Devils and Penguins. The Devils are 4-16-1-4 overall with a 2-9-1-1 home mark and a 2-7-0-3 road record. Albany is 1-1-1-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.
The teams last met on Mar. 23 at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. The Penguins scored the tying goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation and netted the game-winning goal 1:22 into overtime for a 3-2 victory. Adam Larsson and Darcy Zajac were Albany’s goal scorers and Keith Kinkaid made 19 stops. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Brendan Mikkelson was responsible for the tying goal and Chuck Kobasew netted the winner.
|Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins||69||39||22||3||5||86||0.623|
Syracuse, NY — Evan Rankin netted the game-winning goal at 8:21 of the third period, helping the Syracuse Crunch to a 2-1 victory against the Albany Devils Friday at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The teams were tied 1-1 after two period and Rankin followed up on his own rebound to end a three-game losing streak against Albany.
With the loss and a Providence (83 pts) shootout win, the Devils move to seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 35-22-4-8 record (82 pts.). Albany also lost ground on fifth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (86 pts), which won against Bridgeport.
Harri Pesonen scored the Devils goal, which opened the scoring at 11:30 of the second period. Entering the slot, he fired a shot wide right, but the puck deflected off the end board and popped back in front where he buried his 13th goal of the season. Alexander Urbom and goaltender Scott Wedgewood were credited with the assists.
Syracuse tied the game when Cedric Paquette scored off a rebound with 2:02 remaining in the second period.
Wedgewood finished with 23 saves for just his second loss in his last seven starts. Entering the night, he had a 1.32 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in his last seven games.
At the other end, Kristers Gudlevskis made 16 saves for his 17th win of the season.
The Devils, who are 3-2-0-0 against the Crunch this season, went 1-3 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
Next up, the Devils will try and close the gap between the Penguins with a 7:05 pm start at Mohegan Sun Arena. The game is available online or on mobile devices at ahllive.com. Additionally, the game can be heard on 104.5 “The Team” ESPN Radio.