HARTFORD, CT – Despite holding two leads against the Hartford Wolf Pack Sunday at XL Center, the Albany Devils lost their season opener, 4-3. Jon Merrill and Joe Whitney both enjoyed multiple-point games. Merrill registered three assists and Whitney had a goal and a helper.
Dylan McIlarth’s redirection off an Aaron Johnson shot at 4:36 of the third period stood as the game-winning goal after Albany held 1-0, and 3-2 advantages earlier in the game.
“It’s something we have to do early in the year is learn how to keep the lead and learn how to finish games,” said assistant captain Chris McKelvie. “There were certainly a couple of bounces that maybe could have gone our way. We’ll learn from it and hopefully we’ll get better for it for next weekend.”
Timmins began the scoring just 51 seconds after the puck drop. Whitney found Merrill at the right point and the rookie defenseman’s shot was tipped waist high by Timmins’ stick.
“Whitney just did a good job of forechecking there,” Timmins said. “He got the puck and sent it to Merrill on the blueline. I saw there was a lane to the net, so I just opened up. He took a slap shot and I just tipped it. I didn’t see it go in, but thankfully it did.”
The Wolf Pack announced with back-to-back goals by J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider (PPG) at 9:13 and 14:00, respectively. Before the end of the first period, Merrill began a defensive-zone breakout with a pass to Harri Pesonen, who sprung Wohlberg for a breakaway. After receiving the puck in the neutral zone, Wohlberg beat Hartford net minder Jason Missiaen high, blocker side at 18:57.
In the second, Whitney followed up on a wrist shot from the right circle and picked the upper-left corner at 2:31. Albany’s lead lasted until Miller scored his second of the game on a put-back chance at 19:02.
Albany outshot Hartford 26-22 and went 1-3 on the power play.
“I think we did a good job — we kind of limited their chances.” Timmins said. “I think we played really good defense, but obviously the point shot there getting through and a couple other goals in front. We just have to clean up somethings.”
The Devils will have nearly a week off before welcoming the Utica Comets to Times Union Center for the home opener on Saturday at 5 pm.
“We are going to take care of the things that we didn’t do well tonight,” McKelvie said. “We are going to look at video and see where we can touch up some things. Certainly, we have to make sure we are taking care of the puck in our own zone.”
The first 5,000 fans to Saturday’s game will receive a free magnet schedule, courtesy of Albany Clothing and Promotions.