IceCaps edge Devils in Game 3, 1-0
In Saturday’s 4-2 Game 2 win over St. John’s, Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid made 20 saves in the third period.
He carried some of that momentum into Wednesday’s Game 3 in Newfoundland, and had to, just to keep the Albany Devils in the game. The IceCaps won, 1-0, but Kinkaid’s play kept the Devils competitive as they were outshot, 30-14, through the first 40 minutes.
St. John’s outshot Albany, 12-1, through the first 13 minutes, but Kinkaid said he felt comfortable with the constant action.
“It’s easy to get into the game with a few shots right away,” he said. “I felt pretty good the whole game, just control yourself and try to give the boys a chance to win.”
The loss pushes Albany to the brink of elimination in the first-round series, in which it trails St. John’s, 2-1.
The IceCaps got their goal at 17:50 on a Kael Mouillierat breakaway after Albany committed a neutral-zone turnover.
“We had possession of the puck and didn’t get up ice,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I think Darcy Zajac tried to make a lateral pass just in front of our blue line, and our D were coming off. Not a great line change, and not a great decision to move the puck there. They just got a piece of it and redirected it to their D in the neutral zone, then it was a quick pass up the middle.”
“They passed up the middle, he kind of fumbled the puck a little bit, then made a move at the end,” Kinkaid said.
Mouillierat lifted a backhand past Kinkaid at the right post for his first goal of the postseason.
Otherwise, Kinkaid was just as tough to beat as he was in that third period on Saturday. He came up big on several occasions, helping the Devils kill off six penalties.
“I think everybody’s just doing their jobs,” Kinkaid said of the PK. “They’re keeping their shots to the outside, they had a good one-timer, but they’re letting me see the puck, they don’t let anything in the middle, the second chances, they clear away.”
At about 13:15 of the second period, former Albany River Rat Jerome Samson shot from high on the right side, and Kinkaid made the first save, sending the rebound back out to the right, but lower in the faceoff circle. Samson got to it quickly and sent the puck back toward the net. Kinkaid dove back to make the second stop.
“He was outstanding,” Kowalsky said. “He made big save after big save. A lot of it was fighting through traffic. He had good rebound control. He did everything he could to give us a chance to win that game.”
It was a performance worthy of a win, but there was no goal support to be found. St. John’s goalie Michael Hutchinson stopped all 24 shots he faced.
The Devils saw enough scoring opportunities, and even passed on a few more.
“Especially the first couple shifts, we were in their end and had opportunities to put pucks on the net, and we just passed up on them and decided to make a pass, which ended up turning into a lost possession,” Kowalsky said. “That was my biggest concern. That was one of the biggest differences in the game, we didn’t put enough pucks on net, especially early, and make this guy have to make saves and control his rebounds. I think that’s where we had our success in Game 2. When we did do that, it translated to chances.
“We had some, I’m going to say, 10 to 12 golden opportunities to score. I think that’s the biggest thing we’ll take out of it. I think our execution wasn’t where it needed to be, but even in that first period, their D are up, we had two-on-one, [Chris] McKelvie had a breakaway, the odd-man rushes have gotten more and more for us each game. You capitalize on those, especially when they had all those unsuccessful power plays, you capitalize on those, and that’s going to take the wind out of their sails. Keith was outstanding, again the penalty kill was huge. Our power play didn’t score, but we certainly got some good looks. I think the biggest thing that I’ll take out of this game is that we didn’t skate or were as physical as we needed to be or have been, then just finishing. Bearing down and finishing those chances, because we had numerous opportunities to at least tie this game up.”
In the closing seconds, with Kinkaid pulled for an extra attacker, a rebound came to Joe Whitney below the right circle. He was facing an open net, but his shot found a way to miss.
“I’ve got to watch it. I think it put it off the post,” Kowalsky said. “It might have hit both posts or just off the crossbar. That summed up our night, right there.”
The Devils killed six penalties, improving to 13-for-14 on the PK in the first three games of the series, but those six penalties hindered their ability to get four lines rolling, especially in the second period.
“I didn’t think we had great legs early, and that certainly contributes to it a bit when there’s guys sitting there,” Kowalsky said. “It was frustrating, but you’ve got to live with it and try to find a way to fight through. It certainly takes the flow out of the game.”
Albany now faces a must-win Game 4 on Friday at 6 p.m. in Newfoundland. A win would force a decisive Game 5 on Saturday night at 6.
“We’ll go over the tapes,” Kinkaid said. “I think we just have to bear down on our chances. We had quite a few two-on-ones, quite a few rebounds to capitalize, but Hutchinson’s a good goalie and played good. We’ll just take a look at the film and go from there.”
“We have to watch it [the tape], but I think our execution, we just didn’t have enough guys skating and playing the way we’re capable of playing,” Kowalsky said. “I don’t want to discredit them [the IceCaps]. They came out pretty strong. But for the most part, we didn’t force them enough, for 60 minutes. With that being said, we spent probably over a period in the box, as well. Taking advantage of those opportunities, we certainly had enough chances to win one game. We’ve got to regroup here, get rested up and come out with certainly better legs and more energy and put more pucks at the net. When those chances come, you’ve got to make them count.”