ALBANY, NY – Rod Pelley scored the game-winning goal early in the third period as the Lowell Devils beat the Albany River Rats 7-4 on Saturday night at the Times Union Center.
The River Rats scored the first goal of the game off of the opening faceoff when left wing Joe Jensen sped into the offensive zone and, while shielding the puck with his body, sent a strong backhand pass across the slot to Dwight Helminen for the finish; Helminen’s third goal in two nights came just 19 seconds into the game. The Devils tied the game six minutes later when Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond deflected a Matthew Spiller slap shot passed Albany goaltender Daniel Manzato to make it 1-1. Midway through the frame Lowell took its first lead of the contest when Rod Pelley set up Matt Halischuk for a quick one-timer in the slot at 11:29. With just 34 seconds remaining in the period the River Rats tied the game as rookie Nick Dodge found Jakub Petruzalek all alone in front of the net and, one-on-one with Devils goalie Jeff Frazee, Petruzalek patiently waited out the goaltender and wrested the puck into the top corner.
Albany hit a rash of penalties in the second period as the River Rats were called for three consecutive minors. Lowell cashed in at 9:52 when defenseman Anssi Salmela gained the blue line and wound up for a big blast that beat Manzato on the glove side. Jon DiSalvatore gave the Devils a two goal cushion at 16:00 on a slap shot from the point that clanked in off of the low post. After allowing his four goal of the night Manzato was pulled in favor of backup Justin Peters; Peters did not face a shot over the final four minutes of play and Albany headed to the dressing room trailing 4-2.
The Rats charged out in the third period and scored two quick goals to level the score at 4-4. 1:29 into the third Mike Angelidis charged wide around a defenseman and squeezed a backhander by Frazee on the short side to make it 4-3. Just nine seconds later Jerome Samson tied the game, putting away his own long rebound from a sharp angle. The Devils took just thirty nine seconds to break the tie with another deflection, this one off the stick of Pelley from a Salmela shot at 2:17. Twice in the next few minutes Albany fans thought that their team had found the equalizer; the referee first correctly overruled the goal-judge and indicated that the puck had hit the side of the net, and then waived-off another goal when a cross-bar shot fooled the goal-horn operator. The Devils posted an insurance goal on a counter attack when Michael Swift sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Nicklas Bergfors at 17:34. Letourneau-Leblond added an empty net goal with 0.4 seconds remaining to cap off the scoring.
Lowell goaltender Jeff Frazee stopped 30-of-34 shots and earned the win as the Devils improved to 25-21-1-4 on the season. Albany starter Daniel Manzato blocked 13-of-17 shots in 36:00 of action and received a no decision. Backup Justin Peters made three saves on five shots over the final 22:03 and took the loss as the River Rats fell to 24-24-3-2 on the year. Albany out-shot Lowell 34-23 in the game and went 0-for-2 on the power play; the Devils went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
The River Rats will complete a three-game home stand on Monday, February 16th as they host the Manchester Monarchs for a 5:00 pm President’s Day game at the Times Union Center.
River Rats flex ticket packages and individual game tickets are on sale now at the River Rats office and the Times Union Center Box Office. For more information please contact the Albany River Rats at (518) 487-2244 or online at www.albanyriverrats.com.