The Albany Devils picked up a big win Saturday night at Giant Center, with a Harri Pesonen third period goal earning New Jersey’s AHL affiliate a 3-2 victory. Hershey’s loss marked the end of the 2012 calendar year games wise for the Bears, as they look to reach the playoffs once again as the club hits the New Year. With the loss, Hershey will begin 2013 with a 16-14-1-1 record, when they faceoff against the Binghamton Senators, AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.
The Devils were led in goal Wednesday night by Keith Kinkaid, who picked up his eighth win of the season with his 34 save effort. Albany forward and lockout casualty Bobby Butler paced the Devils offensively, contributing a goal and an assist, along with being one the ice for all three Albany goals.
“I thought we played a pretty good sixty minute game,” Bears coach Mark French said. “We could of got more shots through or more shots on net and probably of been a little more inside from a forward perspective. I thought our compete level and our execution level offensively, maybe other than getting enough shots, I liked a lot of parts of our game.”
The Hershey Bears took an early lead 8:06 into the first stanza, with Jon DiSalvatore’s persistence leading to his 10th goal of the season. DiSalvatore rushed past a Devils defenseman, but couldn’t beat Kinkaid, but he kept working through his shift. Hershey forward Garrett Mitchell fed Jon DiSalvatore later in the sequence in the offensive zone, which this time the Bears’ alternate captain buried past the Albany goalie.
The Bears had numerous quality scoring chances in the first period, including a rebound attempt by forward Matt Pope. The fourth line forward’s shot hit the post following a rebound save by Kinkaid, originating from a point shot by Hershey defenseman Julien Brouillette.
Albany earned a power play with two minutes remaining in first stanza, but couldn’t beat Hershey goalie Braden Holtby. Last spring’s Washington Capitals goalie continued his strong play of late, registering 12 saves on 12 shots in the first period.
The Devils tied the game at one near the midpoint of the second period, finding twine past Holtby. Albany forward Tim Sestito deflected a point shot by Eric Gelinas for his third goal of the season. Hershey would control the majority of the second period however, outshooting the Devils 11-8.
With the goal, Albany cut Braden Holtby’s shutout streak at an outstanding total of 133:54 minutes. Although Holtby allowed three goals in the game, most were due to turnovers and ones in which he could do nothing about.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Bears forward Jon DiSalvatore said of Hershey’s recent play in net. “Obviously we got to start with our goaltending. I was talking with some of the other guys, it seems all we have to do is score one goal and we have an opportunity to win a game.”
“It’s a lot easier to take away second chance opportunities from the d-zone coverage stand point when they come from an odd man rush,” said French.
With the game tied at one in the third period, each team would look to grab a one goal lead. Albany struck first on Bobby Butler’s 14th goal of the season, but his goal was quickly followed up by Zach Hamill’s 10th of the season only 45 seconds later.
Albany would grab the lead once again later in the third frame, cashing in on an odd-man rush. Harri Pesonen potted home his fifth goal of the season, following a shot on goal by Bobby Butler.
“Certainly on their [Albany’s] last goal it was the trailer on the rush,” said French. “Last time we played them they were able to generate chances in transition and off the rush, seemed to be where they’re dangerous rather than spending a lot of time in zone play. Certainly on their last goal that played true.”
Hershey continued to push hard in the third period, outshooting the Devils 15-9. They even earned a man advantage opportunity with five minutes remaining, but could not beat Kinkaid.
“When guys are in slumps or when a team is in slumps the opportunities are there you got to keep going with it,” said DiSalvatore. “It’s a numbers game and you got to keep throwing the puck at the net, you don’t want to change when you are creating that kind of momentum. You got to stick with that, because that will be the formula for success. You just got to keep going with that.”
Hershey returns home in the New Year, taking on the Binghamton Senators January 5th at Giant Center.
1. Attendance: 10,896
2. Bears Injuries: T.J. Syner, Ryan Stoa and Dmitry Orlov
3. Hershey Healthy Scratches: Kevin Marshall, Boyd Kane (veteran), Matt Clackson and Jonathon Kalinski
4. With the home loss, Hershey holds a 2-9-0-1 record on Saturday nights at Giant Center
1. Harri Pesonen (one goal, one assist, plus two, three shots on goal)
2. Bobby Butler (one goal, one assist, plus three, four shots on goal)
3. Keith Kinkaid (34 saves on 36 shots)