ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils capped off their three-in-three weekend with the another heart stopping comeback win, 3-2, against the Toronto Marlies Sunday at Times Union Center. The Devils picked up all six points during the weekend and extended their winning streak to four games. .
Raman Hrabarenka scored two power play goals and Nick Lappin netted the game-winner with 39.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Matt Lorito and Marc Andre Gragnani each had two assists. Scott Wedgewood made 17 saves for his second straight victory.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s game:
A Knack for the Heroic
Lappin has been a difference maker in every game he’s played for the Devils. He followed up an assist on the game-tying goal Friday and the game-tying tally Saturday with the game-winning goal Sunday with just 39.5 seconds left in regulation. Lorito combined with Jim O’Brien to set up Lappin just in front of the net. Lappin deked around the sprawling goalie and slipped the puck in to win the game.
Lappin downplayed his incredible start.
“Hopefully I can just keep playing well and we can keep winning,” Lappin said. “ That’s the goal. It’s definitely nice to score some goals. At the end of the day we won three goals and that’s all that matters.”
“Great play at the end,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “Again you can see he’s around the net, he’s hungry for the puck. When he gets a little sniff of an opening there’s no question he’s going there. Huge game for us, huge weekend for us. I like his decisions. He makes plays when they are there, but when they are not there he keeps it simple. His compete level on the puck and the way he attacks the net I knew that if there was some ice and some room out there he was going to get a chance or make a play and sure enough he did.”
The Devils penalty killers was asked to prove their standing as the league’s top unit and they delivered. Three first period penalties put the Devils on their heels, but the team came through, killing off all three in impressive fashion. It was truly a team effort from the net out to keep the Marlies off the board. Everyone was involved in blocking shots, getting sticks into passing lanes and clearing the zone. Wedgewood was sharp in denying what got through.
The Marlies powerplay unit boasts several big time scorers and none bigger than defenseman T.J. Brennan, who leads all defense in points (58) and power-play goals (8). Kowalsky was pleased with how his team answered the challenge.
“The penalty kill has been great all year for us,” Kowalsky said. “It was big tonight right from Wedgewood out. We had some big shot blocks. Those top guys, Pelley, McKelvie, O’Brien and Novak steps in, and Pietila steps in. Black has been a regular this weekend. Those guys have been in and out of the speciality team situation and they had to step up and be part of it there’s no question it was huge against a very skilled team. Couple guys had some big blocks tonight.”
Hrabarenka Pots Two
Hrabarenka matched his single game best with a two-goal game that reversed the game’s momentum. The Devils’ power play had been largely ineffective until it suddenly sprung to life with Hrabarenka’s two quick goals.
Hrabarenka’s first goal came off a rebound from Gragnani’s point shot. He whacked away at the bouncing puck down low and found pay dirt. His second tally came just 2:27 later when Lorito’s shot hit a man in front and bounced right to Hrabarenka, who buried it from the circle on a bang-bang play.
“It’s not even the scoring, the big hit, his gap was great tonight,” Kowalsky said. “He was physical, he moved the puck well. He’s starting to get back to form, he’s looked, during the last couple games, like he did last year during the first half. The injury was a bigger setback then we thought last year but he’s skating, he’s physical and he can move the puck. He can shoot the puck too.”