Binghamton Devils Edged By Phantoms in AHL Action

The NHL Network today aired a special American Hockey League game featuring the Binghamton Devils at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The Devils fell by a score of 5-3 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I figured I would give a little bit of a recap here on the blog since it was Devils related.

The game was a lot closer than the score looked, as the Phantoms took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute left in the game and then added an empty netter to top things off.

Lehigh Valley got the scoring kicked off when Cole Bardreau scored at 3:19 into the first period with assists to James de Haas and Radel Fazleev. Nick Lappin tied things up from Steven Santini and Kevin Rooney at 6:08. That made it 1-1 going into the first intermission.

That first period was played penalty free, which would not be the case later in the game, as both teams beat a path to the penalty box throughout the final two periods. The thing was, both team’s power play units would respond and put the puck in the net when they had to.

It started when Philippe Myers took a tripping call at 7:42 of the second. John Quenneville converted on that one at 9:41 from Jacob MacDonald and Christoph Bertschy. That was Quenneville’s eleventh AHL goal of the year and put Binghamton up 2-1.

The Devils, however, would take a penalty when Jan Mandat went off for tripping at 10:10. Three seconds into that penalty kill, Josh Jacobs of the Devils would go off for high sticking, giving Lehigh Valley a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Will O’Neill of the Phantoms would oblige on that one, scoring from Myers and Danick Martel at 11:56. The game was now tied up at two and that is where it would stand going into the second break.

A rare, at this point, even strength goal was scored 8:02 into the third period when Lehigh Valley’s Mikhail Vorobyev notched his eighth of the year from Reece Willcox and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to put the Phantoms up 3-2.

But this game was so back-and-forth that things would not remain that way for very long. At 13:07, Aube-Kubel was called for boarding, putting the Devils on the power play. Lappin would score his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage, getting assists from MacDonald and Bertschy and tying things at three.

That was where it would stay until, with 59 seconds left in the game, and things seemingly headed to overtime, Mike Vecchione was the hero for Lehigh Valley. He scored from Colin McDonald and Willcox to put the Phantoms up 4-3.

That goal was reviewed to see if the puck was kicked in by Vecchione, but the replay confirmed the call on the ice: it was a good goal. Lehigh Valley had the lead and the Devils quickly pulled their goaltender, Eddie Lack, for the extra attacker with about 45 seconds left in the contest.

The Phantoms added an empty net goal from Phil Varone (assists to McDonald and Bardreau) at 19:53 and that was all she wrote at 5-3.

Binghamton got good goaltending from Lack, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots against. Lehigh Valley also had the empty netter, making their shot total 28 for the game. The Phantoms’ Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves on 26 shots.

On the power play, the Devils were a perfect 2-for-2 while Lehigh Valley was 1-for-4.

Lappin, with his two goals and four shots on goal (which led Binghamton) was awarded the second star of the game. Jacob MacDonald of the Devils also had two points (both assists), as did Christoph Bertschy.

This game was a battle of two teams going in two different directions. Lehigh Valley is looking for their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth while Binghamton has been struggling in their first season in their new surroundings. They relocated this past offseason from Albany to Binghamton, where they replaced the Binghamton Senators – who moved to Belleville, Ontario.

The Devils are in sixth place in the seven team North Division while the Phantoms stand at first place overall in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms actually have more points than the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, but Toronto has four games in hand and has already clinched a playoff spot in the North Division despite that.

Devils Blow Out Sens; Shut Out by Isles

It was a tale of two games for the Devils tonight. They played two split-squad games, one at Summerside, Prince Edward Island in the Kraft Hockeyville Canada game against the Ottawa Senators and one that started an hour later at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York against the New York Islanders. They came away 1-1 on the night, beating the Senators 8-1 and losing to the Islanders, 3-0.

Now, obviously, the Devils had their “A” team playing at the Credit Union Place in PEI while the “JV,” so to speak, was playing down the North American coast in Brooklyn. But both games showed some very interesting things for fans to take in and digest.

Full disclosure: I did not get to see the game in Canada due to it being blacked out regionally down here on the NHL Network. I am again going by what I could scrounge up from the Internet. I did get to see the Islander game, as it was televised locally on MSG+, however.

Let’s start with the good news, shall we? The Devils defeated the Sens, 8-1 after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. According to Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website in her “10 Takeaways” column, Marcus Johansson scored “less than two minutes into the game.” She also said that Johansson had four points on the night, as he also had three assists.

Drew Stafford, Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville each had two goals for John Hynes’ squad while Nico Hischier also added one to give the Devils the boost. The Devils had a 7-0 lead when Mike Condon was relieved in goal by Andrew Hammond (a preseason thing, he was not chased, apparently).

Speaking of the goaltenders, Cory Schneider played the whole game and made 20 saves on 21 shots faced.

Meanwhile, in New York….

Geoff Ward was coaching the Devils’ “B” team and things did not go as smoothly against the Islanders. They fell 3-0, falling into some penalty trouble and being smothered in the shots on goal department.

Keith Kinkaid, the Long Island-native, made the start and played the entire game for New Jersey. He made 42 saves on 44 shots against. With an empty net goal, the Islanders would finish with 45 shots on goal. For New York, Thomas Greiss started and also played the whole game. He made 25 saves in the Islanders’ shut out win.

The Islanders took the early lead just 1:11 into the game when Brock Nelson scored from Josh Ho-Sang and Johnny Boychuk. Just that suddenly, it was 1-0 Isles and that was all they needed.

At the 12:02 mark of the first, the Devils’ Ben Thomson took on the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield in a good scrap that brought some energy to the game.

Then, at the 13:54 mark of the first, Joseph Blandisi was called for slashing, a not uncommon sight in this preseason with the crackdown on slashing, and the Islanders went on the power play. Mathew Barzal would score a nice goal, using his speed to slice through the Devils defense and making a good move around Kinkaid to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. John Tavares had the lone assist on the goal. That goal made New York 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils finished the night 0-for-1.

Late in the first period, a scary moment occurred when Michael McLeod of the Devils was helped off of the ice with an apparent leg injury. He was favoring his left leg and would not return.

The Devils’ best period was the second when they actually outshot New York and really tested Greiss. They missed on a 3-on-1 late in the period and he stopped Jimmy Hayes on a nice chance late in the period too.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid with a little over a minute left in the game and Johnny Boychuk would score the empty netter from Nikolay Kulemin and Cal Clutterbuck to put the game away at 18:41.

In the end, the Devils were outshot 45 to 25 and lost 52-percent of their faceoffs. But those were the only places where the Devils were outplayed on the stat sheet. They out hit the Islanders, 29 to 24, had 15 blocked shots to 13 for New York and only gave away the puck four times to the Isles’ 11.

In the end, despite losing in Brooklyn (and getting blanked to boot), the Devils outscored their opponents on the night, 8-4, which is a good sign for the big squad and gives Devils fans some optimism as they head into the season. They just may have opened some eyes in Canada.

Next up, the Devils head south to Washington on Wednesday for their final game of the preseason. That game will be televised on MSG+ and we will have a recap here for you.