The Syracuse Crunch and Albany Devils are close in geography, along the New York State Thruway. Their games this year have been even closer. So far the road team has the edge. In their previous two meetings, Albany won at Syracuse by a goal and the Crunch edged the Devils with 0.4 seconds in OT, at Albany. This contest would be no different.
It was a packed house at the Times Union Center, with over 6,319 in attendance. Back in the lineup for Albany were Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito. Josefson was playing on a line with Captain Stephen Gionta and Vladimir Zharkov.
Both clubs appeared to be in a lull. Albany, not having played since a spirited two-game mini-sweep at the Norfolk Admirals, last Friday and Saturday, muster only two shots, to Syracuse’s nine, in the first frame.
Play picked up in the second period.
The Devils Nathan Perkovich came around to the front of the net and beat Marco Cousineau, for his fourth of the year. Perkovich’s tally, from Darcy Zajac and Mike Banwell, gave Albany a 1-0 advantage.
Shortly thereafter, Syracuse struck back. John Kurtz slipped one past Keith Kinkaid, for his first of the year, tying things at one.
Speaking of Kinkaid, he made some solid stops in the second, including one off his left arm and another snatched with his glove. Conversely, Cousineau, made several stops when he had to, facing a combined 31 shots in the second and third combined, as Albany picked up the pace.
Yet there was still more offense to come in the second stanza.
Just as the Crunch had tied it, they took their first lead of the contest. Luca Caputi, fed a streaking and wide open Brandon McMillan in the slot for the goal. It was McMillan’s sixth marker, from Caputi and Mat Clark.
Later in the period, the Devils weren’t done. Brandon Burlon blasted a pass from Banwell and Perkovich was “Johnny on the spot,” with the re-direct, tipping one past Cousineau, evening the affair at two. Perkovich, whose goal was the difference in a 1-0 win at ‘Cuse earlier in the year, netted a deuce in this one, totaling five on the campaign.
In the third, each squad threw its weight around but couldn’t cash in. It was much the same in the extra session, with neither able to hit the back of the net.
So it was on to the shootout. Mike Sislo, Josefson and Joe Whitney, tallied for Albany. Yet Syracuse was one better, scoring four straight, on markers by Patrick Maroon, Caputi, Jean-Francois Jacques and Dan Sexton with the eventual winner. Stephane Veileux rang one off the post for the Devils and the Crunch skated off with the extra point, in a 3-2 victory.
Syracuse has now won three in a row and moves to 38 points. The next contest for the Crunch comes at Worcester. Albany with the shootout loss, hits the 40 point plateau. Meanwhile, the Devils next host the Adirondack Phantoms.
On another note, Josefson was trying to get his legs under him, but did have a few opportunities, including in the second, where he just couldn’t get his stick down on a pass out front. Last season in Albany, Josefson really thrived with Adam Henrique and Matt Anderson on the “JAM line” (Jacob, Adam, Matt) but wasn’t paired up with Anderson this time around and obviously Henrique is up in New Jersey. Personally I believe it would behoove the Devils to let Josefson and Mattias Tedenby develop in Albany for the better part of the remainder of this season. Henrique played all year in Albany last season, notching 25 goals and 25 assists and this year he’s a rookie All-Star and a Calder Trophy frontrunner. Just food for thought.