ALBANY, NY – The Albany Devils came from behind twice, but Portland Pirates winger Brett Hextall spoiled the Devils quest to extend their point streak to seven games. Hextall registered the game-winning goal at 10:56 of the third period and added an empty netter at 19:10, helping his team to a 5-2 victory Saturday at Times Union Center.
Albany (5-2-0-1) owned a 36-25 shot advantage, which could have been more if not for Portland’s game plan to fill the lanes. When shots did find their way through, netminder Mark Visentin made 34 saves.
“We addressed that after the first period and again after the second,” Kowalsky said of the blocked shots. “We had a lot of sustained pressure in the second and outshot them 14-7. I’m sure they blocked another 14, 15. Two big defensemen, getting in the lanes and almost played net at times. When it did get through Visentin was able to make some big saves for them.”
Portland’s Jordan Martinook opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally at 6:55 of the first. Albany responded when Cam Janssen forced an offensive-zone turnover and Chris McKelvie found Scott Timmins for his fifth goal of the season, extending his point streak to eight games — tied for second longest in team history with Niclas Bergfors (Feb. 14-27, 2009).
Before the end of the period, Portland’s Gilbert Brule made the score 2-1 at 9:55 with a power-play goal.
In the third, sustained pressure led to Reid Boucher’s second goal of the year. Dan Kelly and Jon Merrill registered the assists.
“Our forwards were doing a good job pressing,” Kelly said. “Then the puck squirted out a couple times to the top; Jonny and I were taking shots, and one of the pucks squirted out. I saw Boucher coming around and I figured give it to one of the hot sticks, so I slid it down to Boucher.”
Less than six minutes later, Hextall netted the game winner beating Scott Wedgewood blocker side.
The Devils power play had chances late, but failed to convert a four-minute power play at 11:05 and a two-minute opportunity at 17:46.
“A lot of our exchanges were bad and then when we did make some plays, we had some bad shot decisions,” Kowalsky said. “We still had opportunities and if you finish those it’s a different game.
“You have an opportunity to win the game and a little bit of credit goes to their penalty kill and obviously their goaltender, but you have to find a way to score with the game on the line.”
The Devils continue their home stand when they welcome the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Syracuse Crunch, to Times Union Center Wednesday at 7 pm. Hot dogs and small sodas are $1 as part of Dollar Dawg Night. Additionally, all children 12-and-under will receive free admission when dressed in a Halloween costume.