ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils forced overtime and then claimed the extra point in the shootout, defeating the Providence Bruins, 2-1, Saturday at Times Union Center. Harri Pesonen scored during regulation and Stefan Matteau and Joe Whitney accounted for the shootout tallies.
“From here on out it’s playoff hockey,” Whitney said. “We’ve talked about it all week, it’s a big weekend. We have three games at home and against the Providence team that’s right above us in the standings and we’re trying to catch them. It’s just a gutsy effort by all the guys and showed a lot of heart and character and came out with a win.”
The win moves the Devils a step closer to a Calder Cup Playoff Berth. Albany’s 87 points are good enough for seventh place — two behind Providence in sixth place. The Devils (37-23-5-8) are now four points ahead of eighth-place Hershey and five ahead of ninth-place Norfolk. Both teams have played two fewer games.
“Every point counts,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “That extra point could be real huge and sets us up the potential to have a big week.”
Providence (39-23-2-9) jumped out to a 1-0 lead, scoring a power-play goal at 18:45 of the first period. Zach Trotman received the puck off an offensive-zone faceoff and fired a wrister into the upper-left corner.
After a scoreless second, Seth Helgeson sent a shot towards the net. The puck deflected out in front and Pesonen jammed it in at 3:00 for his 14th tally of the season.
“Helgeson made a good move and got some room for himself, took a shot, and it kind of bounced right to my feet,” Pesonen said. “I was able to catch it and put it in. I think the goalie didn’t really see where the puck was, so I had a pretty easy trap to put in.”
The Devils penalty kill, which went 1-6 during the game, killed off a minute and 58 seconds of penalty time during overtime. Keith Kinkaid, who finished with 18 saves, made four in the extra frame.
Once in the shootout, Matteau scored in the third round and Providence’s Seth Griffith responded in the fourth. Whitney, who like Matteau snapped a shot from the slot, put the Devils ahead 2-1 and Kinkaid denied Justin Florek to seal the victory.
Albany owned a 32-19 shot advantage during the game.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all week: being prepared for this weekend,” Pesonen said. “Just stay positive and even if it seems like we can’t get it in, just stick to it. We did that today, tied it up and had a couple chances in overtime as well. It was nice to win in a shootout.”
Next up, the Devils host the Syracuse Crunch Sunday at 5 pm.