ALBANY, N.Y. ‚?? A hockey season that stretches over parts of seven, even eight months can quickly become a grind, but not an excuse.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes wasn‚??t using the ‚??one of those games‚?Ě line after his Penguins were dismantled by the suddenly surging Albany Devils, 6-3, Wednesday night at the Times Union Center.
It was the third straight loss but first of the three in regulation for the Pens, who had their seven-game point streak snapped.
‚??That shouldn‚??t happen,‚?Ě Hynes said. ‚??That type of performance, that type of detail, that type of effort should not happen, whether it‚??s in a 76-game schedule, or any other schedule. Albany played a good game. Credit to them, they outplayed us.‚?Ě
Third-year forward Bobby Butler, new to the Devils but a familiar face to Wilkes-Barre from his days with the Binghamton Senators, scored four goals and set up a fifth to power Albany, now the winner of four straight.
Butler completed his hat trick with a short-handed goal 8:03 into the second period, which turned out to be the winner against Brad Thiessen, who finished with 24 saves.
‚??He was an excellent college player,‚?Ě Hynes said of Butler, who played four seasons at the University of New Hampshire. ‚??We played him quite a few times in Binghamton and he was part of that Calder Cup-winning team. It‚??s not just Bobby; he played well tonight and happened to be the guy that scored most of the goals, but they have a good group of forwards and their team, collectively, played real well.‚?Ě
Riley Holzapfel staked Wilkes-Barre to a 1-0 lead with 11:28 gone in the first period. Skating undetected behind the defense, Holzapfel was alone to grab the rebound of Beau Bennett‚??s shot and lift a backhander high inside the right post for his eighth goal of the season.
Albany netted the equalizer just over six minutes later, on just its fifth shot against Thiessen. Joe Whitney carried the puck up left wing and centered through the slot to Butler, who outreached backchecking forward Eric Tangradi to one-time a shot low under Thiessen‚??s left pad.
The Devils jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the second period was two minutes old, scoring twice on Thiessen in a span of 45 seconds. Harri Pesonen went to one knee in the right circle to crank in a one-timer from Jacob Josefson at 1:03, and Butler tipped a pass from Steve Zalewski over Thiessen‚??s pad from the right post at 1:48.
Wilkes-Barre responded at 3:16, when Brian Dumoulin ripped a shot from the edge of the left circle high under the crossbar for his second goal in 21 games this season. The Pens were handed a power play and a chance to tie it on a Dan Kelly slashing penalty with 12:32 left, but Butler stole the puck from Trevor Smith at the blue line, skated in alone and had his forehand shot carom off Thiessen and float into the net for a short-handed goal at 8:03.
‚??They got up and we were able to answer back, but the way they played was very solid,‚?Ě Hynes said. ‚??Even though we were able to score some goals and keep it fairly tight, if you look at the game in general, they deserved to win, and the score was indicative of the game.‚?Ě
Tangradi and Dylan Reese took minor penalties 17 seconds apart, giving Albany a two-man power play advantage for 1:44 late in the second period, but Thiessen turned away three shots and had chances from Eric Gelinas and Matt Anderson ring off the goalpost. The Pens‚?? Jayson Megna swept in a pass from Paul Thompson at 15:40 to make 4-3.
Zalewski whipped a pass from Butler past Thiessen 2:59 into the third to give Albany a 5-3 lead, and Butler put in a blind backhander for his fourth goal at 5:35, scoring into an open net after Pens center Warren Peters collided with Thiessen in the crease.
The game‚??s final four minutes saw eight fighting majors and two Pens players, Paul Thompson and Bobby Farnham, leave the game with misconducts, accounting for 68 of the 118 total penalty minutes between the two teams.
‚??It‚??s hard to win in this league,‚?Ě Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. ‚??That‚??s a team that does the little things well. Not that other teams don‚??t, but this was a good test for us. I said that before. Every team we beat so far had been struggling a little bit, maybe some more than others, and we took advantage of it. It was a good test for us and the guys played hard.‚?Ě
NOTES: Recalled from ECHL South Carolina and signed to a PTO on Tuesday, G Ryan Zapolski dressed as Thiessen‚??s backup, following the injury this week of Jeff Zatkoff. The AHL leader in wins (10) and goalie of the month for November, Zatkoff was hurt taking a high shot in practice ‚?Ľ
Also not in the lineup for the Pens were D Joey Mormina, D Brian Strait, C Zach Sill, RW Tom Kuhnhackl, LW Steve McIntyre, RW Keven Veilleux and D Simon Despres ‚?Ľ Bennett extended his point streak to five games (1-7-8) with a pair of assists ‚?Ľ
First period‚?? 1, Holzapfel 8 (Bennett, Samuelsson), 11:28. 2, Albany, Butler 5 (Whitney, Zalewski), 17:42.Penalties‚?? Samuelsson, Wbs (interference), 2:07; Reese, Wbs (cross-checking), 14:43; Urbom, Alb (holding), 17:55.
Second period‚?? 3, Albany, Pesonen 2 (Josefson), 1:03. 4, Albany, Butler 6 (Zalewski, Whitney), 1:48. 5, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Dumoulin 2 (Holzapfel, Bennett), 3:16. 6, Albany, Butler 7, 8:03 (sh). 7, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Megna 2 (Thompson, Dumoulin), 15:40.Penalties‚?? Josefsson, Alb (tripping), 5:22; Kelly, Alb (slashing), 7:28; Tangradi, Wbs minor-major (high-sticking, fighting), 13:13; Kelly, Alb major (fighting), 13:13; Reese, Wbs (high-sticking), 13:30.
Third period‚?? 8, Albany, Zalewski 2 (Butler, Josefson), 2:59. 9, Albany, Butler 8 (Anderson, Pesonen), 5:35.Penalties‚?? Farnham, Wbs major (fighting), :21; D.Zajac, Alb minor-major (slashing, fighting, served by Pesonen), :21; Uher, Wbs major (fighting), 5:53; Zalewski, Alb major (fighting), 5:53, McKelvie, Alb (high-sticking), 8:40; Smith, Wbs (slashing), 11:16; Uher, Wbs major (fighting), 15:58; D.Zajac, Alb major (fighting), 15:58; Samuelsson, Wbs minor-major (charging, fighting), 19:03; Grant, Wbs major (fighting), 19:03; Thompson, misconduct, 19:03; Sestito, Alb minor-major (roughing, fighting), 19:03; McKelvie, Alb major (fighting), 19:03; Farnham, Wbs minor-misconduct (slashing), 19:19; Peters, Wbs minor-major (interference, fighting), 19:19; Kelly, Alb major (fighting), 19:19.
Shots on goal‚?? Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 11-9-7 ‚?? 27. Albany 5-13-12 ‚?? 30.
Goaltenders‚?? Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Thiessen 3-3-1-0 (30 shots-24 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 5-5-3-2 (27-24).
Power-play opportunities‚?? Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 0 of 5. Albany 0 of 5.
Referee‚?? Chris Brown.Linesmen‚?? Mike Emanatian, Frank Murphy.