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.