ALBANY, NY — Harri Pesonen forced a neutral-zone turnover, weaved into the offensive end and found Stefan Matteau skating down the left wing. The 19-year-old fired a snapper from the face-off circle past Hartford netminder Jeff Malcolm during the second period Friday.
The Devils hope the goal, which was Matteau’s first, will spark scoring from him and his current line mates: Pesonen and Rod Pelley.
“We need to score goals to win games,” Matteau said Monday after practice. “It was nice to get one in, but one is not enough. As a team we’ve been doing really well; our top line has been doing really well scoring a lot of goals. With me, Pelley and now Pesonen we are really starting to click and I think we are going to get things going.”
As opponents target the Timmins-Whitney-Boucher line, Head Coach Rick Kowalsky knows that a player like Matteau can contribute greatly to the team’s success.
“It’s important that we get some secondary scoring,” Kowalsky said. “Obviously, we know that the Timmins’ line has done well, but we are going to need production out of some other guys. We’ve seen it sparingly at times. There’s no question that Matteau, Pesonen, Mike Sislo‘s out of the lineup, David Wohlberg, Tim Sestito, Mike Hoeffel, those guys are going to have to provide offense. It doesn’t have to mean all of them have to do it consistently, but we are going to need them to chip in here and there.”
Although Matteau’s first AHL goal came from a shot down the wing, the Devils want the 2012 first round draft pick to make his mark deep in the offensive zone.
“The skill is there, the speed is there, the size is there, but he needs to score a couple of those goals that are tips in front or off rebounds,” Kowalsky said. “Score those ugly goals first and I think the skilled goals will come.”
Matteau appeared in 17 NHL games last season before finishing the year with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL. Like with most young players there is an adjustment period to the professional game.
“It’s a little bit different,” Matteau said. “It’s a different atmosphere — more [professional] than juniors. Things are going well. I’m fitting in well and I just have to keep putting pucks on the net and points will come.”
He will have a chance for his second goal when the Devils host the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday at Times Union Center. Puck drop is at 7 pm.
• Eight Devils skated Monday at Times Union Center, including goaltenders Keith Kinkaid and Maxime Clermont. New Jersey recalled Kinkaid and reassigned Clermont to Albany Friday. According to New Jersey, Kinkaid is expected to be recalled again Tuesday. Scott Wedgewood, who played both Friday and Saturday, joined the rest of the team for an off-ice workout.
Reid Boucher, Mike Hoeffel, Cam Janssen, Stefan Matteau, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Harri Pesonen, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac