Untouchable On Home Ice, Devils Prevail In OT
ALBANY, NY — Jim O’Brien scored his second goal of the night 58 seconds into overtime to help the Albany Devils to a 3-2 victory against the Utica Comets Wednesday at Times Union Center. Yann Danis made 24 saves as Albany won for the eighth consecutive time on home ice.
Utica had been creeping up on the Devils in the North Division standings, registering points in six straight games (5-0-0-1) and winning eight consecutive road games. However, thanks to its 12th win at the TUC, Albany improved to 18-8-3-0. Utica moved to 16-10-3-2.
Reece Scarlett’s first period tally complimented O’Brien’s second two-goal showing of the season.
Danis, who entered the contest third in the AHL for wins, registered his 15th victory. He made 24 saves, including 10 in the first and 13 in the second.
HIGHLIGHTS & GAME NOTES
• The Devils continued their dominance at home, improving on their league-leading home points percentage of .833 with a 12-2-1-0 mark. The team has outscored opponents, 49-21, on home ice.
• Since returning from a groin injury on Dec. 11 against Syracuse, O’Brien has tallied seven points (4g-3a) in seven games. For the season, he has six goals and 10 points in 15 outings.
• Danis registered his 15th win of the season — second highest in the AHL. He improved to 15-4-3 with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.
• Scarlett netted his first goal of the season and first since Feb. 21 at Utica. The 22-year-old has four points (1g-3a) in 18 games. For his career, he has 49 points (9g-40a) in 123 games.
• With an assist, Paul Thompson extended his home point streak to eight games, posting five goals and five assists. For the season, he has 14 points, backed by six goals and eight helpers, in 20 contests.
The game’s momentum see-sawed between the two teams all night and the Devils took advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves. It was no different in overtime when Brian O’Neill skated the puck into the offensive zone and found O’Brien down the right side. He fired a shot and followed his rebound, pushing the puck past Bachman.
HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Albany struck first when Chris McKelvie won an offensive-zone battle and chipped the puck ahead along the half-wall to Reid Boucher. He cut towards the net and found Scarlett, who had enough time to load a wrist shot and fire into the upper-right corner at 5:20.
Before the end of the period, Utica produced the equalizer. Jones redirected Jordan Subban’s point shot past Danis, who was screened on the play, at 14:58.
The Devils recaptured the lead at 4:12 of the second period on a fast break. Ben Thomson moved the puck into the offensive zone and made a pass to O’Brien in the high slot. His initial bid was blocked, but Thompson followed up and O’Brien was on the doorstep to jam in a third rebound.
Albany appeared to be heading to a regulation win, but Shinkaruk (Utica’s leading scorer) beat Danis with a wrister with 5:24 remaining in the period.
The Devils did have a power play during the final two minutes, but didn’t find the back of the net until O’Brien’s OT tally.
The Devils and Comets face off Thursday at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Fans can follow the action of the 5 pm contest online at ahllive.com.