ALBANY, NY — Mike Sislo scored twice, but Frank Vatrano‘s second goal of the night came late in the third period to sink the Albany Devils 3-2 against the Providence Bruins Tuesday at Times Union Center.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Sislo Sustaining Success
Sislo continued to find success Tuesday with his second consecutive two point effort. He picked up his league-leading 13th power play tally in the second period and added an even strength goal in the third. Early in the game, the Bruins kept a man glued on him, preventing good chances from his favorite spot on the power play. But Sislo and his teammates adjusted, moving Sislo around before he got a little space between the top of the circles. O’Neill sent a pass back from down low and Sislo made a sliding one-timer that just went under the bar. Sislo then picked up a third period goal on a breakaway set up by Matt Lorito. Sislo now has 20 goals and 38 points in 43 games – the best pace of his career.
“We made some adjustments with Gragnani being out, we moved O’Neill on the opposite side of Sislo and he’s been able to find him quite a few times,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “He getting pucks from different angles now but the same result. The goal, that’s been his bread and butter all year, that was an NHL shot, he ripped that. I don’t think there’s anybody saving that. He’s consistently just stayed with it. That’s been the big thing with Sislo.”
Appleby Makes Home Debut
Appleby made his home debut for the Devils, stopping 29 shots against the high-powered Bruins offense. Appleby has spent most of the year playing in the ECHL for the Adirondack Thunder after leading his junior team to the Memorial Cup last season. He finished his junior career not only as a champion but as the leading goalie in shutouts, goals against average and save percentage.
Appleby played well, using his size and quickness to deny the Bruins’ chances. His toughest save of the night came late in the first period when Vatrano, who has 19 goals in 17 games, got past a defender and found space alone in front but Appleby stayed with him and made a strong blocker save.
“Being at home, having a few practices here, I definitely felt more comfortable than I did in the game in Bridgeport,” Appleby said. “The guys supported me well tonight, obviously one or two I’d like to have back. That’s the way it goes sometimes. There’s a bit of a difference [in the AHL], guys are better at making decisions, better their own ends. Everything is a split second faster, passing, shooting, just the pace of the game is faster.”
Pelley and Gragnani Remain Out
Captain Rod Pelley and veteran blue liner Marc-Andre Gragnani each missed their second straight game. Players have stepped up to fill the void, but neither player is easy to replace. Their return remains in doubt for the weekend’s three games in three nights.
“It’s a real question mark with Gragnani and Pelley,” Kowalsky said. “Right now, probably not. Maybe Gragnani; they aren’t moving along as we thought. Pelley is certainly out for the weekend.”