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The seventh-place Albany Devils will try and move within a point of the sixth-place Providence Bruins during a 5 pm match-up Saturday at Times Union Center. With four games remaining, the Devils and Bruins are in a tight race for the last four spots in the Eastern Conference. The Devils are two points ahead of eighth-place Hershey and three ahead of ninth-place Norfolk.
Including his two goals against Bridgeport Friday, Kelly Zajac has 12 multi-point games of the season. The 25-year-old is second on the team with 42 points. Additionally, he ranks second on the team and fifth among AHL rookies with 30 assists. He has registered 13 power-play points with three goals and 10 helpers.
The game is part of “Military Appreciation Day.” All active and retired service members will receive free admission to the game by showing proper identification at the Times Union Center box office.
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Devils vs. Bruins Series
The Devils and Bruins are meeting for the 52nd time. The Devils are 24-17-3-7 overall, with a 14-8-0-3 home showing and a 10-9-3-4 road record. Providence took all four games during the 2012-13 season with two regulation wins and two shootout victories.
During their first and only meeting this season, Albany lost 3-2 in a shootout against Providence at Dunkin Donuts Center on Mar. 2. The Devils carried a 2-1 lead into the third period thanks to Tim Sestito and David Wohlberg’s goals. Providence’s David Warsofsky forced overtime with his goal at 9:19. In the shootout, the Bruins scored in the first and third rounds and goaltender Malcolm Subban denied all four of the Devils attempts.
The Devils and Bruins are meeting for the final time this season.
Both of Zajac’s goals can be classified unusual. The first deflected off his head and in and the second — the game-winning goal — was batted out of midair, hit Bridgeport netminder Philippe Trudeau’s leg and inched just inside the left post.
“I didn’t even know that went off my head,” Zajac said. “I just tried to stay in front of the net and that second one was like an inside pitch and just tried to knock it down, got a lucky bounce and it went in.”
The victory was much needed for the Devils, who are trying to secure their first playoff berth since the 2009-10 season. Albany sits in seventh place with 85 points (36-23-5-8) and trails sixth-place Providence by three points. The two teams meet Saturday at 5 pm at Times Union Center. Additionally, the Devils are two points ahead of eighth-place Hershey and three ahead of ninth-place Norfolk.
“We have to worry about tomorrow night, just keep getting points here and moving forward and we’ll be fine,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky.
Friday’s win was the seventh against the Sound Tigers this season and Keith Kinkaid improved to 6-0-0 against Bridgeport. He made four saves in the first, 11 in the second and seven in the third for his 22nd victory of the season and first since Mar. 7.
“Finally got the monkey off my back,” Kinkaid said. “There were a few games we were winning and then they tied it at the end. It feels real good to finally get that win again and hopefully this is a winning streak to come.”
Offensively, Zajac’s first goal came at 18:52 of the first period. Dan Kelly sent a pass towards the front of the net. The puck floated in the air, hit off a Bridgeport player’s glove and off Zajac’s noggin.
In the third, Stefan Matteau made a waist-high pass from behind the net to a cutting Zajac, who redirected the puck for his 12th goal of the season at 5:08. The goal secured Zajac’s 12th multiple-point game of the year.
Saturday’s game is part of “Military Appreciation Day.” All active and retired services members will receive free admission by showing proper identification at the Times Union Center Box Office.
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The Albany Devils will play four of their final five regular-season games at Times Union Center where they are 20-7-2-1. They begin their three-in-three home weekend with a 7 pm outing against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday.
The Devils 35 wins overall are tied for most in franchise history after 71 games. The 2009-10 team, which also had 35 wins at the same point, had 36 wins after 76 games and finished with 39 during an 80-game schedule.
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Devils vs. Bridgeport Series
Friday’s game will be the 55th all-time meeting between the two franchises. The Devils are 19-23-3-6 overall with a 15-7-1-2 home mark and a 4-16-2-4 road record. This season, Albany is 6-2-0-1 against Bridgeport.
During their last meeting on Feb. 16, Bridgeport claimed a 7-3 victory at Webster Bank Arena. For Albany, Raman Hrabarenka scored a pair of goals and Joe Whitney also tallied.Scott Wedgewood and Johan Hedberg shared goaltending responsibilities. Scott Mayfield led the Sound Tigers with a goal and two assists and Anders Nilsson made 33 saves on 36 shots.
The Devils and Sound Tigers are meeting for the final time this season.
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