ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils took three separate leads only to find themselves trailing the Syracuse Crunch late in the third period Friday at Times Union Center. Recently returned Mike Sislo scored on the power-play to tie the game and turn momentum around in the third. Matt Lorito turned a neutral zone turnover into the game-winning goal to give the Devils a 6-4 win and extend their home winning streak to 9 games.
Here are three takeaways from Friday:
Three Called Up; Sislo Returns
The Devils have become accustomed to frequent lineup changes, but none quite like they experienced Friday. Forwards Paul Thompson and Jim O’Brien and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani were recalled to New Jersey early in the morning, while Mike Sislo was returned to Albany.
Each of these veterans have played big roles for Albany this season. O’Brien has been a driving factor of recent success with five points in his last four games and Thompson is riding an eight-game home point streak. Gragnani leads the defensemen with 15 points.
While the Devils missed those players, Sislo put on a power-play clinic, scoring twice including a rocket that tied the game late in the third. Sislo’s presence made all the difference for a team that needed a boost late.
“It was good to see him get right back on the scoresheet,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “That’s a big part of his game. It’s more about the pace, he was playing at another level.”
“I feel like I have some more confidence,” Sislo said. “We play the same system, so it’s a lot of familiar things. It’s a pretty easy transition.”
All Eyes On Drouin
Jonathan Drouin made his AHL season debut after being assigned to Syracuse earlier in the week. Drouin, the third overall selection during the 2013 NHL Draft, had 32 points in this NHL rookie season last year. He has been injury plagued start to his sophomore season.
He showed no rust Friday, showing tremendous speed and scoring twice in the second half of the first period. He broke loose on a breakaway to tie the game at one then got free to create a quick two-on-one down low and sniped a shot past Yann Danis later in the frame. However, after the first period the Devils were able to keep him in check. Drouin was far less visible as the Devils shut him down.
“We talked about being aware when you’re on the ice with him,” Kowalsky said. “We were a little more mindful with a D-pairings. We matched Dan Kelly and/or Helgeson up against him. We were a little more conscious about who we had out there up front. You don’t change your game, but you’re aware you’re playing against highly skilled players. You make good deacons with the puck and you defend hard.”
Not to Script
The Devils haven’t had many high scoring, back-and-forth games at home this season. They had allowed just 1.40 goals per game prior to Friday’s action. Furthermore, the Devils have been especially strong at protecting leads, but Friday bucked both trends. The Devils got out to three separate leads only to have the Crunch battle back each time. The Crunch finally got their first lead at 5:14 of the third. From there the Devils would battle back with three more goals to secure the victory. It was just the second time the Devils have given up four or more goals at home and only their fourth victory when giving up three or more goals.
“The first part of the third the bench was a little quiet,” Sislo said. “Once we did give up the lead I thought we really responded and bounced back well.”
“We’ve been finding ways to win. Normally we’re a lot tighter defensively,” Lorito said. “That wasn’t so much the case tonight but we found a way to get five and then get six.”